Union Ratbags destroying business

Union bosses always go too far…and the people who suffer are always the employees that they purport to protect.

Read this article about union ratbags strong arming business in California.

‘At what point do you look at this picture and ask, ‘Why are you fighting anymore?'” muses Dan Gerawan, whose third-generation family farm in Fresno, Calif., has been under assault by California’s labor-regulatory complex.

Within days a state mediator could impose an unwieldy labor contract that may force him out of business. However, the ultimate victims will be his farm workers.

Mr. Gerawan’s story illustrates the devolution of California’s progressive dream. His grandfather migrated from Dust Bowl Oklahoma and started a small farm, which his father expanded into the country’s largest grower of peaches and nectarines. Dan and his brother grew up toiling in the fields alongside the workers, as they still do.

Employees of Gerawan Farming can earn more than $15 per hour (the state industry average is $8.70) plus modest retirement and health benefits. The Gerawans also pay for the workers’ English-language instruction and their children’s Catholic school tuition. Silvia Lopez, who has worked on the farm for 15 years, says “there’s no place that they care about safety and benefits like Gerawan,” and that workers can talk to the owners if they have a problem. 

The United Farm Workers muscled its way onto the farm in 1990 but quickly lost support. In that year, the UFW won an election to organize Gerawan workers (with just 536 total votes) and in 1992 was certified by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Yet after holding just one bargaining session, the union lost interest and never procured a contract.

Then, after nearly two decades without negotiations, UFW organizers turned up last October and demanded a contract that would require employees to pay 3% of their wages in dues (between $600 and $1,000 a year). Gerawan also says that the union wanted the company to fire workers who didn’t pay up.

The UFW needs the cash to pay its own bills. Since its heyday in the 1970s, the union has lost roughly 90% of its members. Last year, it spent $1.2 million more than it collected, based on Department of Labor filings. Hitting up Gerawan’s 5,000 workers could double the union’s revenues, and the easiest way to extract the money from workers was to enlist the state’s help.

Make demands like that as a private citizen and you’d find yourself wearing orange on a blackmail charge.

The workers are innocent victims here in a powerplay by the union…and they are fighting back…against the union ratbags.

The Gerawans and their workers have been resisting the union power grab. First, the Gerawans complained to the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board that the union had abandoned Gerawan workers two decades ago, and therefore mediation was inappropriate. The five-member board, dominated by left-leaning academics and labor attorneys, rejected the complaint because the union was never officially decertified. Most of the current workers were unaware that the union was ever certified, since 95% of them weren’t around in 1990 when the vote took place.

Lupe Garcia, who has worked on the farm since 1977, requested that he and 15 other workers be allowed to participate or at the very least observe the mediation, which under state law is “on the record” and should be open to the public. The state board denied the request, ruling that the workers were represented by a committee of employees handpicked by the union.

Mr. Garcia then sued the state for violating his and fellow workers’ due process. A Fresno Superior Court judge has yet to rule on the case. Meanwhile, Gerawan workers are circulating a petition to hold an election to decertify the union. They already have more than 1,250 signatures. To be valid, a majority of workers must vote to decertify. The clincher: The election must occur before the mediator imposes a contract, which could happen anytime in the next three weeks.

Meantime, one Gerawan worker recently filed a police report claiming that a union operative threatened him with physical assault if he didn’t support the union. Others tell me union operatives have shown up at their homes and passed around fliers that suggest workers could earn “libertad con papeles” (freedom papers)—i.e., immigration amnesty—if they pledge support for the union.

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.