The results of a union decertification election from November 2013 may finally be counted.
The California Supreme Court on Sept. 13 unanimously rejected a bid by the United Farm Workers of America and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board to overturn a court order directing the board to count the ballots from Nov. 5, 2013.
“Our family has consistently maintained that we will honor the results of the election, once we know the election results,” Dan Gerawan, co-owner of Gerawan Farming, said in a news release. “We hope that the ALRB will finally do the same, and immediately count the ballots.”
The court case is relevant to issues that reach back to 1990, when the United Farm Workers won an election at Gerawan, according to the release. After many years without attempting to bargain for a contract, the UFW in 2012 asked the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to impose a contract that would require Gerawan farm-workers to pay the UFW to keep their jobs, according to the release. The decertification election was held in November 2013, after a majority of Gerawan farmworkers asked to decide whether to oust the UFW as their bargaining representative.
However, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board refused to count the ballots, accusing Gerawan at the time of trying to manipulate the outcome of the election.
On May 30 this year, the California Court of Appeal in Fresno reversed the board, and directed it to count the ballots. The ALRB had appealed to the California Supreme Court.
Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, said in a statement that workers have a right to choose if they want to be represented by a union.
“Nearly five years after the Gerawan Farming workers’ votes were cast, the ALRB has exhausted all of its appeal rights and must now do the right thing and have the votes counted,” Nassif said.
“However, this process has taken too long and is evidence that the State of California has deliberately acted to disenfranchise farmworkers. The ALRB has strayed far afield from its original purpose – to guarantee justice for all agricultural workers – which requires immediate reform.”