En un movimiento sorprendente, el ALRB hoy a las 11:10 am por fax desocupó la decisión del director regional de expulsar la petición de desertificación de los trabajadores agrícolas para tener una elección. Esta última acción pretende una elección que tendrá lugar el Martes 5 de Noviembre de 2013 para determinar si la Unión de Campesinos de América (UFW) representará a los trabajadores agrícolas de Gerawan Farming, Inc.

“Esta ha sido una montaña rusa emocional para Silvia López y sus colegas,” dijo Paul Bauer, el abogado que representa a López. “Ella está encantada de finalmente tener el derecho a votar sobre representación, y tenemos que seguir asegurándonos que se mantiene la integridad del proceso electoral.”

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In a surprising move, the ALRB today at 11:10 a.m. via fax vacated the regional director’s decision to dismiss the farmworkers’ decertification petition to hold an election.  This newest action prompts an election to be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, to determine whether the United Farm Workers union will represent the farmworkers at Gerawan Farming, Inc.

“This has been an emotional rollercoaster for Silvia Lopez and her colleagues,” said Paul Bauer, attorney representing Lopez. “She is thrilled to finally have the right to vote on representation, and we must continue to ensure the integrity of the election process is maintained.”

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FRESNO, CA. – At 9 a.m. today, Gerawan farmworkers will protest at the Visalia ALRB office the decision by the Regional Director for Agricultural Labor Relations Board to block their right to vote on whether the United Farm Workers of America should represent them after disappearing for more than 20 years.

This blocking of the election came less than 24 hours after confirming a showing of interest was made by Siliva Lopez when she filed her second petition for decertification.

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Late this afternoon, ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver issued a  decision, blocking the farmworkers’ right to vote – less than 24 hours after  issuing a statement that the farmworkers demonstrated a “showing of interest” to hold an election.

Shawver cites that there were a sufficient number of signatures to prompt an election, but claims issues developed during the first petition process makes it impossible to move forward with an election.

“This entire process has been conducted under the cloak of secrecy and clearly continues,” said Paul Bauer, attorney representing Silvia Lopez who filed the petition on behalf of nearly 3,000 farmworkers at Gerawan Farming, Inc.

On Friday, October 25, Silvia Lopez delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to the ALRB, calling for an election.  By Monday, October 28, the ALRB Regional Director denied the petition, claiming that the ALRB Board in Sacramento had already approved a collective bargaining agreement, rendering the petition irrelevant.  However, less than four hours later, the ALRB in Sacramento issued an order, vacating the decision of the Regional Director that essentially wiped his decision clean.

“It is clear that they will stop at nothing to ensure that these farmworkers don’t vote on union representation,” Bauer said.

Silvia Lopez will appeal this decision by the ALRB and continues to pursue a federal civil rights action.

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Esta tarde, Silas Shawver el Director Regional del ALRB emitió una decisión, bloqueando el a los trabajadores agrícolas del derecho al voto – menos de 24 horas después de la emisión de una declaración comunicando de que los trabajadores agrícolas demostraron una “muestra de interés” para realizar una elección.

Shawver menciona que hay un número suficiente de firmas para incitar a una elección, pero reclama que problemas desarrollados durante el proceso de la primera petición hacen imposible seguir adelante con las elecciones.

“Este proceso entero se ha llevado a cabo bajo la capa de secretismo  y claramente continúa,” dijo Paul Bauer, abogado que representa a Silvia López, quien presentó la petición en nombre de cerca de 3,000 trabajadores agrícolas de Gerawan Farming, Inc.

El Viernes, 25 de Octubre, Silvia López entregó casi 3,000 firmas al ALRB, pidiendo una elección. El Lunes, 28 de Octubre el Director Regional de ALRB negó la petición, alegando que el Consejo de ALRB en Sacramento ya había aprobado un acuerdo de negociación colectiva, lo rindiendo la petición irrelevante. Sin embargo, menos de cuatro horas más tarde, el ALRB en Sacramento emitió una orden de desocupando la decisión del Director Regional que en esencia limpió su decisión.

“Está claro que no se detendrán ante nada para asegurar que estos campesinos no voten sobre representación de la unión,” dijo Bauer.

Silvia López apelará esta decisión de la ALRB, y sigue buscando una acción federal de derechos civiles.

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After months of collecting signatures and being denied once already by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), Silvia Lopez, a Gerawan Farming, Inc. farmworker and on behalf of thousands of her coworkers, has won the right to vote on whether the Gerawan farmworkers should be represented by United Farmworkers of America (UFW).

“We are very happy to finally have a chance to vote,” Lopez said.  “We have been asking for our voice to be heard and now we have that opportunity.”

Details of the election are being worked out with the ALRB, Gerawan Farming, Inc. and the farmworkers.  The exact process will be determined in the coming days.  The Agricultural Labor Relations Act requires that an election be held within seven days of a showing of interest, which was recognized by the Regional Director for the ALRB at 10:22 p.m. on October 30.

On Friday, October 25, Lopez delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to the ALRB, calling for an election.  By Monday, October 28, the ALRB Regional Director denied the petition, claiming that the ALRB in Sacramento had already approved a collective bargaining agreement, rendering the petition irrelevant.  However, less than four hours later, the ALRB in Sacramento issued an order, vacating the decision of the Regional Director that essentially wiped his decision away.

“This has been a long, rocky road to get to this point,” said Paul Bauer, attorney representing Silvia Lopez.  “My client has been put through the wringer, but what’s important is that these farmworkers finally get to exercise their right to vote on representation.”

The ALRB denied the farmworkers’ petition filed last month – claiming that the more than 2,600 signatures filed did not demonstrate the “showing of interest” required to trigger a vote under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. In 1990 – more than 20 years ago – the UFW won an election to represent the farmworkers.  They did not negotiate the terms and conditions of employment and abandoned the workers.  The UFW now claims they have the right to represent the farmworkers.

“The spirit of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is to honor farmworkers’ free choice – that is exactly why this election needs to be held,” Bauer said.  “Very few of the Gerawan farmworkers were here 20 years ago – they deserve a chance to vote on whether they want the UFW to represent them.”

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Después de meses de recolección de firmas y haber sido negado una vez anteriormente por el Consejo de Relaciones del Trabajo Agrícolas (ALRB), Silvia López, una trabajadora agrícola de Gerawan Farming, Inc. y en nombre de miles de sus compañeros de trabajo, ha ganado el derecho a votar sobre si los trabajadores agrícolas de Gerawan deberían ser representados por la Unión de Campesinos de América (UFW).

“Estamos muy contentos de tener por fin la oportunidad de votar,” dijo López. “Hemos estado pidiendo que nuestra voz sea escuchada y ahora tenemos esa oportunidad.”

Los detalles de las elecciones se están elaborando con el ALRB, Gerawan Farming, Inc. y los trabajadores agrícolas. La Ley de Relaciones de Labor Agrícola requiere que una elección sea realizará dentro de siete días de una exhibición de interés, cual fue reconocida el 30 de Octubre a las 10:22 p.m.

“Mi cliente ha sido puesta a través del escurridor,  pero lo importante es que estos trabajadores agrícolas finalmente podrán ejercer su derecho al voto sobre representación,” dijo Paul Bauer, abogado que representa a Silvia Lopez.

El ALRB negó la petición de los trabajadores agrícolas presentada el mes pasado – alegando que los más de 2,600 firmas presentadas no demuestran la “muestra de interés” necesaria para activar un voto bajo la Ley de Relaciones del Trabajo Agrícola.

“El espíritu de la Ley de Relaciones de Labor Agrícola es honrar a la libre elección de los trabajadores agrícolas – eso es exactamente por qué esta elección necesita ser celebrada, ” dijo Bauer. “Muy pocos de los trabajadores agrícolas de Gerawan estuvieron aquí hace 20 años – se merecen la oportunidad de votar sobre si desean la representación de UFW.”

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October 21, 2013

Dear Governor Brown,

My name is Silvia Lopez, and I work for Gerawan Farming, Inc. in the Central Valley.  I have been a proud farmworker for all of my adult life and am raising my children to work hard and respect our government processes.  I am writing to ask for your help having nowhere else to turn.  More than 20 years ago, the  UFW held an election and won the right to represent the Gerawan agriculture workers.  I was not working for Gerawan at that time and I am told that almost no one of the current workers were either.  But I know that the UFW did not stay to protect us.  They disappeared.

The UFW has come back now and wants to represent us.  But, me and most of the farm workers don’t want this and we want to vote on whether to continue to be represented by the UFW.  I asked the ALRB for help, but was turned away.  I asked the Regional Director in Visalia for help, but was turned away. I learned if I turned in enough signatures, the farm workers could have the right to vote.  So for more than two months this summer, I drove around the fields of Kerman and Reedley gathering signatures and talking to the farm workers.   I lost time at work and suffered at home, but I gathered more than 2,250 signatures and gave it to the ALRB on September 18, 2013, asking for the right to vote.  All we needed was about 1,300 signatures.  But they denied our right to vote, saying that many signatures were not right.

I did some research and found out that the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act was signed by you when you were Governor in 1975.  The act is to ensure justice for all agricultural workers and stability in labor relations.  Will you meet with me so that we can talk about having the right to vote?

Please Governor Brown, justice is to allow us to vote.  I thank you for your time and help.

Sincerely,

Silvia Lopez

Farm workers filed a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures to earn the right to vote on union representation.

By: The Business Journal Staff

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board’s Sacramento office has reversed a decision by the regional director that would have blocked a group of Gerawan farm workers’ in their second attempt to hold an election to determine if the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) should represent them.

The result is that the regional director will count a new batch of signatures by Gerawan employees regarding whether an election should be held. If approximately 1,500 signatures are validated in support of an election, then an election could be held by the end of this week, said Paul Bauer, an attorney representing Silvia Lopez, a farmworker with Gerawan Farming Inc. who filed the second petition for decertification.

“We just want the right to vote,” Lopez said.

On Friday, Lopez delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to the ALRB, calling for an election before a collective bargaining agreement is imposed on them.  She arrived at the offices in Visalia at 1 p.m. and the board took almost 6 hours to process her paperwork.

On Monday, the ALRB said she was too late – that the ALRB in Sacramento had purportedly taken action on a few terms of a collective bargaining agreement on Friday before she filed her petition.

Bauer reported that the Sacramento ALRB determined that the regional board needed a better excuse to deny Lopez’ petition. He said his concern now is getting a vote conducted as soon as possible.

One of the requirements of a vote is having a full farm worker crew on hand. And if the vote drags too far into November, much of the farm crew would be finished for the season and out of the area.

The ALRB denied the farmworkers’ first petition filed last month – claiming that the more than 2,600 signatures filed did not demonstrate the “showing of interest” required to trigger a vote under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

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View the article on The Business Journal website here.