February 15, 2024

WG Files Amicus Brief in NY Card Check Case

Western Growers filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court, Western District of New York, in New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Inc. v. Hochul.

The New York State Vegetable Growers Association (“NYSVGA”) and five family-owned farms filed the lawsuit, challenging the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (“FLFLPA” or the “Act”) which amended the State Employment Relations Act to allow agricultural workers, not covered under the National Labor Relations Act, to unionize and bargain collectively. The lawsuit contends that the FLFLPA’s requirements conflict with the regulatory framework of the H-2A visa program and infringe upon the rights of employers and employees by imposing unionization without adequate protections for secret voting or the option not to participate in union activities.

The amicus brief filed by Western Growers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the International Fresh Produce Association, and the U.S. Apple Association argues that New York’s FLFLPA infringes upon the constitutional rights of both farmworkers and farm owners, particularly in terms of free speech, association, and due process. It critiques the Act’s provisions on card check certifications, employer speech restrictions, and compulsory arbitration, showing how these elements violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The brief emphasizes the importance of voluntary association and the potential for the Act to impose unionization and contract terms without proper consent or majority support.

The amicus brief was drafted and filed by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP partner David Schwarz and special counsel Barbara Taylor.