Representatives of the United Farm Workers are praising a decision by a state official to deny a petition from employees of Fresno-based Gerawan Farming to de-certify the union. But the decision by the regional director of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board is a blow to a faction of anti-union Gerawan employees.
They had circulated a petition to call for a de-certification election, but the director dismissed the effort after determining that a number of the signatures were forged. The director also found that several of Gerawan’s crew bosses violated labor laws in helping to circulate the decertification petition among farmworkers.
“You could write a soap opera about it,” UFW vice president Armando Elenes said at a press conference in Fresno today. “You have fraud, you have forgery, you have employee assistance.”
In 1990, Gerawan employees voted to organize under the banner of the UFW, but a contract was never established. Then this January, the union began negotiations with the company, but a deal wasn’t reached. That led a group of anti-UFW workers to gather signatures.
Attorney Paul Bauer, who represents the worker who filed the petition, said the decision is disappointing.
“This is the latest attempt by the Board and the UFW to thwart these employees, these farmworkers, from their right to have a vote,” Bauer said.
Soon, a mediator is expected to issue a collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, Bauer says his client will request that the board review the decision to dismiss the petition. A civil rights lawsuit is also a possibility.