Gerawan Employees Will Vote Tomorrow On UFW
By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor
told California Ag Today that
Gerawan farm employees would be given the chance on Tuesday, November 5, 2013,
to exercise their right to decide their own economic destiny.
The state's Agriculture Labor
Relations Board (ALRB), in a reversal of its earlier decision, is allowing
workers, or “petitioners”, at Gerawan Farming to hold an election tomorrow, on
whether they want to decertify UFW, in other words, to determine if they want
to be represented by the United Farm Workers union.
This new development follows a very fast roller coaster
of events last week.
Led by longtime Gerawan
employee, Silvia López, the workers gathered thousands of
signatures calling for a new election. The first attempt failed after many of
the signatures were found to be invalid. However, a second attempt, which
gathered 3,000 signatures, satisfied the number of valid signatures necessary.
regional director of ALRB, overturned the
employees’ right for an election citing that the petition and signatures in too
late to be valid.
Thursday morning, October 31, 2013, the ALRB in Sacramento issued a “Showing of
Interest” whereby Shawver confirmed there were enough qualifying signatures on
the employee’s petition to warrant a vote.
Later that morning, the petitioners’ attorney
announced in a press release the election would move forward.
Thursday evening, Shawver again blocked the election, saying there were pending
unfair labor practice complaints.
On Friday, Gerawan employees
did not show up for work. Instead they traveled to the ALRB office (for the
second time) and demanded the right to vote. After hours of protesting, an ALRB
representative came out and announced by bullhorn that the most recent decision
was overturned and the election would, indeed, occur.
In this latest decision, The
Board made it clear that the Regional Director’s “last minute,” “eleventh-hour
charges” in a “late filed complaint” left the Board “with serious doubts as to
the propriety of using that complaint to block the election.” The Board rebuked
the Regional Director for failing to mention statements he made in Fresno Superior
Court, where he told Judge Jeffrey Hamilton that Gerawan and the Board remedied
some of the alleged unfair labor practice charges he now claims justify
blocking the election.
So, ALRB decided to allow the
election while also impounding the ballots pending the resolution of any election
objections and unfair labor practice complaints.
The ALRB issued a Notice and
Direction of Election on November 3, 2013 included the following text:
This election is being held
to determine whether a majority of the employees in this unit wish to continue
to be represented by the United Farm Workers of America for collective
bargaining with Gerawan on wages, hours, and working conditions.
It is a secret ballot
election, which will be supervised by an agent of the Agricultural Labor
You are eligible to vote if
you worked for Gerawan during the week of October 14, 2013 to October 20,2013,
if you are not a supervisor, if you are not directly related to the employer,
if you are not a confidential employee, and if you are not a guard.
If there are any questions,
feel free to contact the ALRB office (listed below). If you wish to vote, you
will be asked for identification such as a photo ID (such as a driver's
license), a Gerawan paystub, or any other identification as required by the
Board Agent in charge.
ALRB has determined when and where
elections will be held on various Gerawan sites on the Eastside in Reedley and
on the Westside in the Kerman area. ALRB
will also conduct the elections.
Observers will include
employees chosen by the UFW and employees chosen among the petitioners.
Attorneys and management will not be present.
will instruct Gerawan employees on their rights and where voting will take
Upon completion of the
election tomorrow, the ballots will be impounded pending resolution of legal
“There’s no telling of when or if ballots will be counted,” said Gerawan. “ALRB will first investigate employer
allegations, both existing and new.
In a related story, Gerawan
filed a lawsuit on October 28, 2013 in Fresno County Superior Court against the
ALRB alleging one of its employee's first amendment rights were violated after
being denied access to a mediation session.
According to the lawsuit, the
employee, Lupe Garcia, attempted to attend a mediation meeting between Gerawan
and the United Farm Workers union in June, but was told by the state-appointed
mediator that the proceedings were confidential.
Gerawan's lawyers argue
Garcia's first amendment rights were violated by not being allowed in the
session. They are asking the court to make the mediation meetings open to the
Fresno Bee, ALRB
Labels: ALRB showing of interest, Decertify UFW, Gerawan and ALRB, Gerawan and UFW, Gerawan farm employees, UFW election