Judge Rejects United Farm Workers Contract that Prohibited Decertification Elections

A major problem with current labor law is 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. All workers should a voice and vote when it comes to union representation, but far too often unions make an effort to take away worker choice.

Farm workers at Gerawan Farming in California have experienced this problem first-hand. As I previously noted:

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.

Thankfully, the Gerawan workers banded together to fight off the UFW’s attempt to intrude on their workplace freedom.

Despite the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board denying the Gerawan workers permission to decertify UFW, on June 5, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton provided the workers with some relief by denying “the award of a new union contract for Gerawan Farming workers authorized by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board General Counsel following mediation.”

Judge Hamilton, in his decision, rejected the UFW contract because it denied Gerawan workers from conducting union decertification elections, which was “a clear objective of numerous Gerawan employees.”

In a statement, Silvia Lopez, a long-term Gerawan Farming employee said, “My coworkers and I are very happy that the judge denied the Agricultural Labor Board’s request to force a contract many of us don’t want and was negotiated by a union many of us are trying to get rid of.”

Not having to run for reelection is just another example how labor law grants unions inappropriate special privileges that put union power over employees freedom to choose. A common sense 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.”