California Labor Board Obstructing Farm Workers Union Decertification Bid

Outdated labor law has led to the problem of inherited unions. Research done by the Center for Union Facts has found that less than 10 percent of employees actually voted for their union representation.

Under federal labor law, unions do not have to stand for reelection. Recognized labor unions may only be displaced through a onerous decertification process.

In California, farm workers are being forced to accept union representation they did not vote for or currently want.

In a previous post I provide the background:

In 1990, the United Farm Workers (UFW) union won an election to represent agricultural workers at Gerawan farms. Then, in 1992, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) certified the UFW as the exclusive representative of the Gerawan workforce.


But as stated in The Wall Street Journal, “after holding just one bargaining session, the union lost interest and never procured a contract.”


Now, over 20 years later, the UFW union organizers are demanding Gerawan negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The contract would require the agricultural workers to pay 3 percent of their wages in union dues. Workers refusing to pay dues would be fired.


Until UFW’s recent contract talks with Gerawan, most of the current workers didn’t know a union represented them. Only 5 percent of employees were around in 1990 when the union election took place.

Once aware, Gerawan workers conducted protests and started collecting signatures to decertify the United Farm Workers.

However, the California Agricultural Labor Board has obstructed the Gerawan workers attempts to decertify the union for the past five months, according to Steven Greenhut:

Gerawan workers collected signatures to force a vote on whether to decertify UFW’s representation. The board claimed that too many signatures were invalid. The workers collected signatures again, but the board rejected them by citing company pressure — even though the company allowed officials to hold seminars explaining to workers their union rights.


After a series of protests the board allowed the workers to vote, but five months after the vote it still refuses to count the ballots, which are stored at its offices.

Unfortunately, this is just another example how labor law grants unions inappropriate special privileges that put union power over employees freedom to choose.

An easy solution to the problem of inherited unions is to require union recertification elections. The Employee Rights Act (ERA) would address the fact that most unionized employees never voted for union representation. The ERA would mandate that “every unionized workplace have a supervised secret ballot election every three years to determine whether employees want to continue to be represented by any incumbent union.”