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Columns
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Supreme Court considers whether state can force farmworkers into UFW contracts

The state of California is illegally forcing farmworkers to submit to a United Farm Workers “contract” that was never negotiated with us, and that we never voted on. This raises important legal and constitutional issues for agricultural labor and employers alike.

Fewer than one percent of California farmworkers are unionized, and not all with the UFW. That means that the UFW does not speak for more than 99 percent of us. But the UFW pretends to speak for all farmworkers anyway, and the state government goes right along.

The Supreme Court is hearing a major case on September 5 about whether Sacramento can impose UFW contracts on farmworkers. The state, through the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), argues that it can. So does the UFW.

Though brought by our employer, Gerawan Farming, the case centers on laborers like me. UFW and ALRB want to enslave us into a “contract” that we never negotiated or even wanted. We never voted whether to ratify any UFW contract. Indeed, we voted to de-certify the UFW back in 2013, but the ALRB never counted our votes. The UFW is using the ALRB as its government enforcer to impose its contract on us – and to ban us from trying to de-certify the UFW again until the year 2020 or beyond.

The so-called contract would reduce our take-home pay, deny us the right to strike against the union, and certainly allow the ALRB to destroy the thousands of votes we cast to de-certify the UFW four years ago.

The UFW’s own official figures show that dues-paying UFW members nationwide barely equal 1 percent of farmworkers in our state. William C. Gould, who stepped down this year as ALRB chairman, said that 99 percent of farmworkers here have no union representation at all. Most, he said, don’t even want a union, period.

So the UFW is lying when it claims to speak for most farmworkers.

Four years ago, I led the worker movement at Gerawan to vote to de-certify the UFW after it had abandoned us for 20 years. We turned out in force, in the largest farmworker protest in California history. The ALRB never counted our votes. Farmworkers and our friends then founded Pick Justice to give us a voice. We have expressed solidarity with independent unions whose members the UFW also blackballed or ignored. UFW trashed us as “agents” of our employers.

The UFW has outlived its usefulness. Two years ago, Governor Jerry Brown received me in Sacramento. UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta was videoed physically trying to block me. The governor insisted that we both pose together with him, as if recognizing the UFW as a sentimental thing of the past, and the rise of new farmworker movements to replace the old.

Last year, the state of California officially recognized me as a “labor leader” among farmworkers. Even though Pick Justice is not a union, the state recognizes that there are new and legitimate farmworker leaders who view the UFW as a relic of the past that doesn’t meet new farmworker needs.

The UFW is fighting us hard, and it’s fighting dirty. To intimidate us, the UFW selected some Gerawan farmworkers as pro-UFW voices in our workplace. One of those UFW supporters has shown himself on Facebook holding a .44 caliber handgun that is generally illegal to own in California. Another of the UFW supporters is a convicted criminal. Those people represent today’s UFW. They don’t represent us.

The UFW campaign happened while we made videos criticizing ALRB member Isadore Hall, who joined a UFW protest specifically to attack us and urge the state to force the UFW contract on us. Five months ago, witnesses say, Hall called us unspeakable names and angrily threatened to “get” us.

So the ALRB is no longer an impartial farmworker advocate, as state law requires it to be.

This is unjust. By considering the Gerawan case, the Supreme Court will settle a constitutional issue on freedom of association. Its decision will profoundly affect the 99 percent of farmworkers, union and non-union, who are not UFW members.


Opinion
contributed
Contact your Representative
Contact your Representative

REPRESENTATIVE OFFICES

Feinstein Fresno and Washington DC offices

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, 2500 Tulare St., Suite 4290, Fresno. Phone: Office 485-7430 and fax 485-9689. Washington, DC Office, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: Office 202-224-3841 and fax 202-228-3954.

Harris Fresno and Washington DC offices

Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif, 2500 Tulare St., Suite 5290, Fresno Phone: Office 448-2787 and fax (202) 228-3864. Washington, DC Office, 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: Office 202-224-3553.

Salas Hanford office 

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, Hanford office: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hanford Office, 113 Court St., Suite 201, Hanford. Phone: Office 585-7170, fax 585-7175 or visit asmdc.org.

Valadao Hanford and Washington DC offices

Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford office: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hanford Office, 101 N. Irwin St., Suite 110B, Hanford. Phone: Office 582-5526 and fax 582-5527 or visit valadao.house.gov. Washington, D.C. Office, 1004 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: Office 202-225-4695 and fax 202-225-3196.

Vidak Hanford and Sacramento offices

State Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford office: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hanford office, 113 Court St., Suite 205, Hanford. Phone: Weston Anderson, 585-7161 or email wes.anderson@sen.ca.gov or visit district14.cssrc.us. Sacramento Office, State Capitol, Room 3082, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900. Phone: Office 916-651-4014 and fax 916-651-4914.


Crime
contributed
Bookings
Bookings and Blotters

Police Hanford

Tuesday, Sept. 5

10:28 a.m. Assault with a deadly weapon, 800 block of Isaac Newton Drive.

12:17 p.m. Burglary, 100 block of North 12th Avenue.

1:23 p.m. Public intoxication, 900 block of North Douty Street.

2:45 p.m. Hit and run traffic accident, 200 block of South 12th Avenue.

8:22 p.m. Injury traffic accident, West Grangeville Boulevard/11th Avenue.

9:05 p.m. Burglary, 1100 block of West Windsor Way.

Wednesday, Sept. 6

5:11 a.m. DUI stop, 12200 block of West Hanford Armona Road.

8:21 a.m. Burglary, 10700 block of Idaho Avenue.

10:51 a.m. Stolen vehicle, 900 block of South Phillips Street.

11:03 a.m. Fraud, 400 block of Park Avenue.

11:25 a.m. Injury traffic accident, 800 block of Leslie Lane.

11:45 a.m. Battery, 400 block of West Elm Street.

4:16 p.m. Public intoxication, South 11th Avenue/West Hanford Armona Road.

5:04 p.m. Battery, 2100 block of North Douty Street.

6:52 p.m. Burglary, 100 block of Second Street.

7:07 p.m. DUI stop, 100 block of North 12th Avenue.

Jail

Tuesday, Sept. 5

Joseph Edward Desrosiers, 42. Suspicion of being an ex-felon with a firearm and warrant related offenses.

Adam Benjamin Garcia, 28. Suspicion of burglary related offense.

Brittany Dawn Hughart-Aguilar, 27. Suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia for unlawful use related offenses.

Juan Manuel Pintor, 29. Suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and tampering with a fire alarm related offenses.

Michael Brian Cantu, 21. Suspicion of petty theft and warrant related offenses.

Dominique Antwon Anderson, 24. Suspicion of forcible entry with property damage, vandalism and public intoxication related offenses.

Wednesday, Sept. 6

Angelo Bengie Gordon, 43. Suspicion of theft and unlawful use of a persons ID and warrant related offenses.

Juan Manuel Delatorre, 26. Suspicion of stalking related offense.

Jose Bautista, 28. Suspicion of criminal sexual assault, lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14-15-years, sexual battery and warrant related offenses.


Local
contributed
Correction

You don’t like mistakes and neither do we. It is the policy of the Hanford Sentinel to correct substantial errors of the newspaper in a timely manner. To that end:

A story in Tuesday's paper about local first responders mistakenly attributed comments to Betty Goertzen. Those comments were actually made by Justin Bond, CEO and founder of Our Heroes Dreams.

To report a substantial error, call Editor Jenny McGill at 583-2421.