Western Growers and industry partners have filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case of Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. California Agricultural Labor Relations Board and United Farm Workers, now pending before the California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District.
The case challenges an ALRB ruling which upheld an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision that a 2013 petition by a group of Gerawan workers to oust the UFW union was tainted by what the ALJ deemed to be unlawful speech by the employer. The Order found the results of the decertification election held in November 2013 to be invalid. The ballots, which have never been counted, but are believed to be heavily weighted toward “No Union” remain impounded by the ALRB pending appeal.
Eugene Volokh is a renowned constitutional scholar and professor of law at the UCLA School of Law, who authored the brief on behalf of WG, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, and Ventura County Agricultural Association. The brief argues that Dan Gerawan’s statements were protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech (Gerawan made statements in support of the workers who petitioned the government for a decertification election and their right to have their ballots counted.).
In addition, the brief argues that CFFA exercised its First Amendment rights by supporting the workers’ exercise of their First Amendment rights, when the association paid for the cost of the bus charter which transported the workers to Sacramento to protest the government’s decision to impound the ballots, and that such actions, even if ruled unlawful, cannot be attributed to Dan Gerawan as a member of the association. Moreover, Gerawan’s silence about the bus trip, was itself, a protected exercise of free speech.
Western Growers will continue to monitor this important case and keep members informed.
For more information, contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.