May 12, 2016

Appeals Court Reverses & Remands Gerawan Public Access Case Back to Fresno Superior Court

A “Public Access” case filed in Fresno Superior Court filed by Gerawan Farming, Inc. has been ruled on by the 5th District Court of Appeal in favor of Gerawan. The case stems from a farm worker, Lupe Garcia — a Gerawan employee — being denied access to a mediation hearing between his employer and the Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB) in 2013. The two sides were meeting as part of the state’s mandatory mediation and conciliation process to discuss an employee contract. Garcia had requested to sit in on the hearing, but was denied access by the ALRB.  The Agency later stated that such meetings are not public and Garcia did not have a right to be present.    

Gerawan filed suit in Fresno Superior Court stating that Garcia had the right under the federal and state constitutions to be part of the meeting. The Superior Court ruled against Gerawan and also stated that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on such a case. However, last week’s Appelate Court decision reversed the lower court’s ruling “and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with” the opinion it rendered.   

Western Growers has been supportive of efforts by Gerawan and its employees to force the ALRB to count votes cast as a result of an election held to decertify the UFW from representing them. The company and its farm workers allege that the union lost its right to represent workers when it abandoned them for almost 20 years. The appellate court’s decision against the ALRB comes on the heels of the Board’s decision to toss out the workers’ petition to decertify the union and void the election; a decision also to be reviewed by the court of appeal. 

For more information, contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.