California has a very diverse economy, and this is one of the reasons it is such a great place to live. In terms of jobs, there are a variety of different sectors and opportunities not available to residents of other states. Not only do we have the world’s leading computer design and software industry located in Silicon Valley, but we have large amounts of farmland on which a large portion of our nation’s food supply is produced each year.
With all of these farms and agricultural industries within our state’s borders, there are a lot of jobs available for farmworkers. However, in addition to great opportunity for farmworkers, we also see many farmworkers being taken advantage of by employers who care more about making money than they do about farmworker safety, health, and quality of life.
According to a recent news article from The Daily Caller, a decent sized crowd of California farm worker union supporters showed in Washington, DC to protest what is happening in relation to a California farmworker labor dispute.
The issues are fairly complex. Essentially, protesters argue it is unfair that a California government agency allegedly refuses to count a union decertification vote. On the other hand, the United Farm Workers (UFW) union is arguing the vote was manipulated and should not be counted, so it supports state efforts to block the vote from taking effect.
In other words, there was vote to disband the union, and the state has not agreed to count the vote allowing the union to be disbanded. While this may seem like a clear-cut issue, opponents of decertification say the vote is not reflective of workers’ wishes, because those who expressed their support of the union were wrongfully terminated and thus not allowed to vote. There are also allegations many farmworkers in support of the union chose not to make their opposition known or voted against decertification out of fear of being fired.
As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, if these allegations are true, it would be illegal to interfere with a worker’s right to support a union, and this is a throwback to the days of harsh anti-union actions common many decades ago.
Union officials also allege employers stopped work to allow workers to vote for decertification of the farmworkers’ union, harassed pro union employees, and even went so far as to forge signatures on the decertification petition. While these actions would be considered illegal and a violation of workers’ rights, it should be noted, these are only allegations, and it has not been proved than any employers actually engaged in these tactics.
The debate over decertification has turned into an ongoing legal dispute involving over six months of testimony and hearings being held in California. The presiding administrative law judge (ALJ) is expected to issue a decision on this matter as to whether the decertification vote will be allowed to be counted, thus decertifying the farmworkers’ union.
In addition to this protest, which took place in Washington, DC, there have been a series of protests in California involving thousands of demonstrators on both sides of the issue.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
California Farm Union Confronts DC Opposition, May 12, 2015, Daily Caller
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Arlington v. Miller’s Trucking – Oral Wage Agreement Weighed, March 15, 2015, Costa Mesa Overtime Lawyer Blog