In a video released Friday, labor icon Dolores Huerta can be seen allegedly bullying and harassing the farm worker who led efforts to decertify the union at Gerawan Farming.
The incident happened back in June when hundreds of workers from the California based farm attempted to confront Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown during a dinner hosted by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). At one point during the event, Huerta was seen shoving and harassing Silvia Lopez as she tried to talk with the governor. Lopez is the Gerawan farm worker who led the effort to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Though she no longer works for the union, Huerta co-founded the UFW with Cesar Chavez in 1965. She also served as the union’s vice president until 1999. The farm workers rallied outside the ALRB dinner hoping to express their frustration with state labor officials and the union. Acknowledging the rally outside, Brown invited Lopez into the dinner.
The video was released by the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF), which helped to organize the rally. Matt Patterson, executive director for CWF, detailed the confrontation in a Forbes piece published alongside the video.
Huerta has become an icon within the labor and civil rights movements. She has even been honored by President Barack Obama for her lifetime of advocating for workers and oppressed people.
The conflict between workers at Gerawan and the union all began in 2013 when Lopez filed to decertify the UFW. The union came back after 20 years of absence to demand dues, angering many of the 5,000 workers at the farm. Some didn’t even know they were in a union.
After an unfair labor practice charge against the farm employer, the ALRB decided to lock away the ballot vote, which was to determine whether workers wanted to continue being represented by the UFW.
Though the ballot could be unlocked pending an investigation, concerns that the ALRB is biased toward the union has made critics skeptical. Later reports, first uncovered by Flash Report Senior Correspondent Katy Grimes, showed the agency illegally prevented some workers from voting with “Jim Crow” type tactics while openly advocating for the union.
Though it appeared Brown was previously unaware of the allegations against state labor officials, the agency does fall within his administration so the farm workers and their supporters wanted to go to him directly. They saw the ALRB dinner as a good opportunity to do just that.
The UFW and Huerta did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
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