In a striking and potentially significant move, the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB) reversed the decision of one of its regional directors that would have blocked Gerawan farm workers from holding an election to determine whether they would be represented by the United Farm Workers (UFW).
According to a story in The Business Journal, the decision came out of ALRB’s main office in Sacramento and overruled an earlier finding rendered in response to a petition filed by Gerawan worker, Silvia Lopez, who requested the decertification election. Ms. Lopez’s petition was the second decertification petition filed by Gerawan workers. Until the reversal, both petitions had been rejected by the ALRB regional director.
The ALRB reversed the decision saying its regional director “needed a better excuse to deny” the petition, which was delivered with nearly 3,000 supporting signatures. The ALRB will have to validate 1,500 of those to allow a vote.
“It’s outrageous that the regional director denied not one, but two, legitimate decertification petitions, each signed by thousands of [Gerawan] workers,” said Jason Resnick, WG Vice President and General Counsel. “The Board did the right thing in accepting the petition. Now they have to take the next step and schedule a timely election so the workers can finally have their vote on whether they want to be represented by the union or not. Finally, the Board needs to count –and not impound – the ballots.”
In a separate petition filed last month, the ALRB denied a request to hold a decertification election that was accompanied by over 2,600 signatures, indicating the signatures did not demonstrate the “showing of interest” needed to call a vote.
Assuming the ALRB validates the required amount of signatures to hold an election, Gerawan workers still face a scheduling hurdle as one of the requirements for an election is having a full farm crew on hand. If the vote gets pushed back too far, many of the workers may have already left the area for the season.
WG will continue to follow these developments and provide updates when they occur.
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