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Good news for the workers: California Supreme Court rules for farmworkers, and upholds binding mediation

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Maura Dolan reports in the LA Times:

California’s highest court decided unanimously Monday that farmers may have a labor contract imposed on them if negotiations with a union fail to produce an agreement.
The state Supreme Court, overturning a lower court ruling, upheld a 2002 law that permits the state to order farmers and unions to reach binding contracts.

The Legislature passed the law after determining that farmers were refusing to negotiate with unionized workers. The law allows either side to ask for a neutral mediator and for that mediator to impose a contract covering wages and working conditions.

The court said the law provided “numerous safeguards” to ensure fairness, including opportunities for appeal.

Monday’s ruling came in a dispute between the United Farm Workers of America, founded by Cesar Chavez, and Gerawan Farming Inc.

Gerawan owns 12,000 acres in Fresno and Madera counties and employs thousands of workers to grow, harvest and pack stone fruit and table grapes.

After winning the right to represent workers but failing to reach a contract, the UFW asked the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board in 2013 to intervene.

The board ordered a binding mediation, and the mediator eventually wrote a contract that the board approved.

Gerawan sued, arguing the state law was unconstitutional.

United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez said Gerawan must now pay workers more than $10 million in back wages.

“After four years of stalling giant Gerawan Farming Inc. should immediately honor the union contract hammered out by a neutral state mediator,” Rodriguez said in a written statement.

The $10-million figure was based on calculations of the difference in hourly pay Gerawan’s 3,000 workers received and the higher wages they would have earned in addition to holiday pay under the state-ordered contract, the union said. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2017 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law, Unions

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