Union, Gerawan Farming go head to head - The Packer

Union, Gerawan Farming go head to head

08/23/2013 09:54:00 AM
Coral Beach

A California judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Gerawan Farming Inc. in an ongoing dispute involving the Fresno grower-shipper of the Prima brand, the United Farm Workers and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

The temporary order bans Gerawan managers or other agents of the company from encouraging employees to sign decertification petitions against the United Farm Workers, according to court documents. It also orders the company to not interrogate employees about their feelings about the union or threaten to fire them for supporting the union.

Fresno attorney Ronald Barsamian, of the Barsamian & Moody law firm, is representing Gerawan Farming in the case. He said evidence regarding the situation will be presented at a hearing set by a California State Superior Court judge for Sept. 11 in Fresno.

“It is standard practice for the UFW to make allegations against companies when they realize employees truly do not wish to be represented by the UFW,” Barsamian said in a written statement provided to media.

“By filing unfair labor practice charges, and having the (Agricultural Labor Relations Board) issue complaints, the UFW attempts to get any election sought by farmworkers blocked pending the resolution of the allegations.”

Dan Gerawan, co-owner of the family owned table grape and tree fruit operation, said Aug. 22 he cannot comment on pending litigation. Barsamian said the grower-shipper employees “several thousand” workers. He said the UFW “abandoned the Gerawan farmworkers for 20 years” and in recent history has been trying to organize the company’s workers.

In February the company sued the union for defamation, saying union statements that Gerawan has been fighting against its workers organizing for the past 20 years were false.

The company also contends that the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board illegally banned farmworkers from attending a state-mandated arbitration meeting about their working conditions and wages.

The company has pending challenges against California’s Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation law that allows the labor board to impose employment conditions on Gerawan’s workers. A Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled June 19 in another case brought by Gerawan that parts of the law are unconstitutional.



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