FRESNO, Calif., Sept. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Gerawan Farming issued the following statement to refute and correct the record on an unfair labor practice complaint filed by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board's General Counsel.
"The General Counsel's last-minute filing makes clear her intention, which is to block the counting of ballots and to delegitimize the November 5, 2013 election ordered by the ALRB. The General Counsel waited until the eve of a hearing to file this eleventh hour complaint. Ms. Torres-Guillen and her staff decided nearly one year ago that the workers would not get a chance to vote. That is why her staff repeatedly dismissed the workers' efforts to have their voice heard through a secret ballot election. This is the latest gambit to deprive the workers of their right. It is part of an unfortunate pattern of delay to avoid the sensible and democratic solution: to count the ballots.
Not once in her complaint does the General Counsel mention that her staff asked for, and was given, unlimited access to speak to every Gerawan worker, so that the ALRB could explain to our workers their right to choose, without any influence from our company, the UFW, or the Board. The ALRB got what it asked for. It spoke directly to over 2,000 workers. It then told the Fresno Superior Court that it was satisfied with this process, which was intended for one reason only -- to assure that a free and fair election would go forward.
The General Counsel pretends that this never happened. The Board was not misled by this omission, which is why it reversed the repeated efforts of her staff to summarily dismiss the election. And neither was the Fresno Superior Court, who had ample reason to comment that it appeared to him that the General Counsel and the UFW were -- in his words – 'in cahoots.'
We are confident that the judge who will hear the UFW's and the General Counsel's coordinated efforts to block this election will also not be misled.
The General Counsel ignores the fact that twice thousands of our workers -- a majority of our employees-- filed petitions asking the Board for the right to an election. She ignores the fact that 800 workers delivered sworn statements testifying to one simple fact -- they exercised their own judgment and free choice. She avoids the inconvenient fact that the UFW abandoned the workers over two decades ago.
We support their right to choose, but the ALRB staff and the UFW do not. Our sole message to our employees has never wavered: 'We want what you want.' There is now only one correct and just solution to ensure employees' rights are protected. Count the ballots."
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION IS BELOW TO FACT CHECK THE ALRB AND THE UFW'S FALSE CLAIMS:
FACT: After the UFW resurfaced after a nearly 20-year absence and despite 98% of current Gerawan employees having never voted for the UFW, Gerawan Farming agreed in good faith to bargaining sessions that began in early 2013.
- The UFW and Gerawan engaged in several bargaining sessions, but the UFW never produced a complete proposal. In fact, the UFW never even made an economic proposal for wage rates and other economic terms while it "negotiated" with Gerawan. Instead, the UFW waited until the compelled mandatory arbitration was almost over and only after the state mediator ordered the UFW to make its economic proposal.
- Our employees did not bring in a state arbitrator, the UFW did. In fact, the UFW and ALRB banned the employees from attending the arbitration sessions when the employees asked to attend.
- The mediator did not "hammer out" an agreement between the two sides, but dictated a set of terms and conditions the ALRB has attempted to impose upon Gerawan employees against their will. That so-called contract strips employees of important rights, but the ALRB will not allow the employees to vote on it. (But, the employees did know the contents of the so-called contract when they voted in their decertification election, so the only real way to know if the employees want that contract is to count their votes.)
FACT: When the ALRB Regional Director dismissed the first decertification petition – where more than 2,000 signatures were collected – 1,500 workers walked out of the fields in protest.
- Gerawan Farming did not instigate the decertification drive or the protests that occurred thereafter – the largest ever seen in California's agricultural industry.
FACT: 98% of current Gerawan Employees never voted for the UFW, and none of the employees were allowed to vote for or participate in bargaining the contract terms before a state-appointed mediator.
- Gerawan employees have publicly gone on strike and protested – sometimes thousands strong – against the ALRB and the UFW, and against the contract drafted by a state mediator at the request of the UFW that states 3% of their wages must go to union dues or face unemployment. The contract the UFW and ALRB are trying to impose on the employees will strip them of the right to strike, which is a clause we opposed, but the UFW and ALRB wanted to finally silence the employees from protesting against ALRB and UFW.
- So frustrated by the state's staunch refusal to hear their voices, Gerawan employees have now sued the state for violation of their civil rights due to their continued refusal to count the decertification ballots from an election held 10 months ago.
SOURCE Gerawan Farming