Gerawan to Appeal State Court Ruling in Favor of ALRB
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
FRESNO, CA - The legal battle will continue on, Gerawan Farming said, despite a ruling in favor of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) from the Fresno Superior Court judge on Monday. The produce company immediately announced plans to appeal the ruling days after its delivery.
As we previously reported, the ALRB decided in early May that it would take the case to Superior Court after the Fifth District Court of Appeal in California overturned its most recent decision.
Dan Gerawan, Co-Owner of Gerawan Farming, Inc., said in a recent press release, "It is unfortunate that the court did not recognize the importance of public scrutiny of public proceedings where a public agency is dictating private agreements between our company and our employees."
In the ruling, the Court held that this forced contracting procedure, known as Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC), is a "private dispute" between "private parties" with a "private neutral."
"We did not agree to arbitrate anything,” Gerawan disagreed. “Neither did our employees. MMC was imposed by force of law, and against our will, by the ALRB."
The case arose after a longtime farmworker with the company, Lupe Garcia, filed a lawsuit in Fresno Superior Court claiming that the First Amendment was violated when the ALRB refused to permit him to silently observe the ALRB’s “on the record” proceedings concerning the terms of a contract to be imposed on him and all other Gerawan farm employees. The company not only supported Mr. Garcia in the Court of Appeal and in the Superior Court, but also filed its own action seeking the same relief.
The Court affirmed the ALRB's 2013 decision that it had the power to exclude workers from "on-the-record" MMC proceedings.
"The ALRB believes it can set aside elections demanded by workers, impound the ballots without counting them, and force workers into a contract with a union that has abandoned its members for decades," said Paul Bauer, counsel for Mr. Garcia. "Mr. Garcia asked for open hearings. So did Gerawan. The ALRB and the UFW asked for secrecy. We look forward to the Court of Appeal's vindication of these basic First Amendment safeguards."
To see the details of the most recent ruling, click here.
The company did not include details or dates in the release. AndNowUKnow will report as the story continues to develop.