The California Supreme Court upheld an earlier appellate court decision to force the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to count ballots cast in 2013 that attempted to decertify the United Farm Workers from representing Gerawan Farming employees.
The ALRB impounded the ballots without counting them, sparking years of legal challenges and protests to have them counted.
“We are pleased and encouraged by the recent decision by the California Supreme Court, which affirms that the most important opinion in this entire matter, the prerogative of the employees, will be heard,” said California Fresh Fruit Association President George Radanovich.
Western Growers Association President Tom Nassif likewise praised the decision.
“Nearly five years after the Gerawan Farming workers’ votes were cast, the ALRB has exhausted its appeals rights and must now do the right thing and have the votes counted,” Nassif said. “This process has taken too long and is evidence that the State of California has deliberately acted to disenfranchise farmworkers.”
The legal case started after workers voted to decertify the UFW in 2013, roughly 20 years after the ALRB certified an earlier vote by a different generation of employees for union representation. That vote to join the union led to negotiations between the union and Gerawan, but no formal contract. The union walked away from the table during those talks and never returned.
In 2013 the union sought to renegotiate without explanation of its absence, leading to an ALRB order to impose a contract and two attempts by employees to cast decertification votes.