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California Farmers Rally Against Forced Unionization

Farmers rallied in California Tuesday to demand their votes get counted on whether to decertify their union.

“Last November Gerawan workers held a decertification election but the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is refusing to count the votes” explained a statement by the Center for Worker Freedom.

The decertification election was held to determine if employees at Gerawan Farming Inc. in Fresno California wanted to keep United Farm Workers (UFW) as their union. Decertification proponents claim UFW hasn’t represented or advocated for the farmers in twenty years only to come back and demand 3 percent of their wage.

The Center for Worker Freedom denounced the ALRB for  “a flagrant attempt to help the UFW rob the workers of their hard-earned money.”

The group has launched a statewide campaign which included billboards and this most recent rally in order to pressure California lawmakers to make the ALRB count the votes.

Center for Worker Freedom executive director Matt Patterson told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “I plan on working on this until the votes are counted.”

“Our message and goal is to alert the community and politicians in California,” he added.

Silvia Lopez, the farm worker leading the anti-union side, has expressed disbelief at recent union tactics and the refusal by the ALRB to count the vote.

“They’re not giving us options,” Lopez told TheDCNF. “Our decision is our right.”

“We’re not animals, we’re not furniture,” Lopez went on to say. “We don’t have a voice and no one can hear.”

Lopez described her fifteen years working at Gerawan Farming as being “very fair,” especially when it came to her interactions with management. Her and her fellow farmers got “paid $11 an hour,” plus double during overtime. They also get benefits, including health and vacation time.

While talking with the other farmers about the union, she found that “more than ninety percent of the workers don’t want them.”

“We reject the offer,” Lopez declared. “We’re going to fight them.”

In a statement obtained by TheDCNF, the ALRB explained, “the ballots were impounded in accordance with case law because of allegations of illegal employer interference.”

The statement continued, “All three parties (Petitioner, UFW and Employer) together filed 52 objections to the election alleging misconduct that affected the results of the election.”

“The Board held that matter in abeyance until such time as the General Counsel has completed her investigation of an unfair labor practice charge (2013-CE-039-VIS) that mirrors the allegations in the election objection,” according to the statement.

Looking ahead, the statement goes on to explain, “What actions the Board takes, including the decision to open and count the ballots or not to open and count the ballots or take other appropriate action, will depend on the record that is presented to the Board following the September 29th hearing.”

Dan Gerawan, a co-owner at Gerawan Farming, told TheDCNF, “Our employees have expressed disbelief.”

Gerawan explained that worker contracts will be written out by “a man appointed by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board” who will not be required to listen to the very workers the contract will represent.

“Written in this contract is a no-strike clause,” he added. “They’re going to strip them of that right of expression.”

“If they want to strike, that’s their right,” Gerawan declared.

The hearing on whether to count the votes begins September 29, 2014 and is expected to last approximately 17-20 weeks.

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