Archives for posts with tag: right to vote

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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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.