Latino Farmers Face ‘Bureaucratic Incest’ In Fight Against Union


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Republican California Assemblyman Jim Patterson denounced state labor officials Monday for upholding a decision to invalidate a union decertification vote by thousands of Latino farm workers.

Gerawan Farming workers — most of whom are Latino — first voted in 2013 on whether to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW), but they never had their votes counted because of an ongoing legal dispute. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) upheld a decision by its own administrative law judge Friday to keep the ballots locked despite accusations the board was biased in favor of the union.

“No one should be surprised that the ALRB’s board sided with its hand-picked and paid-for ‘judge.'” Patterson said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s like the fox who guards the henhouse agreeing with the henhouse executioners who are handpicked by the fox. This is what political, bureaucratic incest looks like.”

The ALRB originally decided to lock away the ballot vote when the union accused farm employers of tampering with the vote. Workers had no recourse except appealing to the ALRB administrative law judge. The judge was meant to be impartial despite the connection to the ALRB, but accusations of political bias in favor of the union cast doubt on both the judge and board.

The ALRB along the way was even accused of deploying “Jim Crow” suppression tactics to prevent workers from voting against the union. Nevertheless, the judge upheld the decision Sept. 17 to keep the ballot locked. The decision then returned back to the ALRB, which once again reaffirmed the vote would not be counted.

Flash Report Senior Correspondent Katy Grimes first brought to light in an article last year the accusations of worker intimidation. At least 19 separate workers alleged in legal testimony that officials told them their vote was likely to get thrown out, made them perform public verbal tests, segregated them and forced them to show identification after explicitly telling them it wasn’t necessary to bring.

Patterson has fought the board over this decision making process and alleged bias — he even introduced legislation to rein in the ALRB in early 2015. The measure would have allowed the workers to vote without having their ballot locked by the ALRB. The measure did not go forward.

The Center for Worker Freedom, a worker choice advocacy group, led much of the effort to bring attention to the issue. This included rallies for the workers and media outreach campaigns. One rally even got the attention of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

The ALRB and UFW did not respond to requests for comment by TheDCNF.

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