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UFW: Now law is upheld, giant grower should pay more than $10 million it already owes its workers

United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez issued the following statement from the union’s Keene, Calif. headquarters after the California Supreme Court today issued its decisions on a huge grower’s challenge to the state Mandatory Mediation Law letting neutral state mediators settle union contracts through binding mediation when the parties can’t reach agreement during traditional bargaining.

The state high court categorically rejected all of Gerawan’s legal and constitutional challenges to California’s landmark Mandatory Mediation Law—including its allegations about “abandonment” by the union—and upheld the law’s constitutionality. In a second decision today, Tri-Fanucchi Farms, the court also rejected the so-called abandonment argument and ordered the grower to pay its worker back wages.

Now that the Mandatory Mediation Law has been upheld, after four years of stalling giant Gerawan Farming Inc. should immediately honor the union contract hammered out by a neutral state mediator in 2013 and pay its workers the more than $10 million it already owes them.

The UFW calculated the difference between hourly pay Gerawan’s roughly 3,000 workers received and the higher wages they would have earned in addition to holiday pay under the state-ordered union contract the grower has refused to implement since 2013. Gerawan is exactly the kind of case lawmakers had in mind when they enacted the law because the company has been repeatedly found guilty by the state of California of multiple and serious violations of its workers’ rights, including the right to their union contract.

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