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State prosecutors once again accuse Gerawan Farming of bad-faith bargaining

Judge found giant company guilty of refusing to bargain last April

A formal complaint—akin to an indictment—was handed down on June 29 by state prosecutors once again accusing Gerawan Farming Inc. of bad faith bargaining by illegally refusing to provide information to the United Farm Workers, its employees’ union, and by making unilateral changes in important benefits and work policies without first negotiating them with the UFW.

Gerawan has been found guilty in recent years of serious and repeated violations of the law by state administrative judges and the full Agricultural Labor Relations Board. In the latest instance, a blistering 60-page decision was issued in another case on April 14, 2017 by a state administrative judge who found Gerawan guilty of refusing to bargain in good faith with the UFW during 2013 and of illegally excluding Gerawan employees supplied by farm labor contractors from union contract benefits. (See: http://ufw.org/state-judge-gerawan-guilty-bad-faith-bargaining-illegally-excluding-workers-benefits-union-contract/ )

Chris A. Schneider, regional director of the ALRB Visalia office, issued the detailed eight-page complaint on behalf of ALRB General Counsel Julia Montgomery. The complaint alleges the following (page citations are included and the full complaint can be viewed at [hyperlink to complaint on www.ufw.org]):

Refusal to Provide Information

• “On or about December 2012, Gerawan’s human resources representative Jose Erevia conducted meetings with many work crews, during which he read a script containing: Gerawan’s message about…the UFW’s request to bargain, the UFW’s request for names and addresses of employees, and Gerawan’s opposition to the union’s actions. Following the meetings, Jose Erevia asked employees from the crews to sign certain documents.” (Page 4 of the complaint)

“On March 1, 2013, the UFW…asked that Gerawan provide it with copies of all documents that employees were asked to sign after the meetings with Jose Erevia. In the letter, [the UFW] stated that employees were concerned about what they had signed and wanted the union’s help. Gerawan never responded to the UFW’s March 1, 2013 request for documents nor did it ever provide any responsive documents to the UFW.” (Page 4)

• “In or about June, July and August 2014, the UFW asked Gerawan to provide detailed information about Gerawan’s plans for changing crops, and replacing its labor-intensive table grape operations with almonds and pistachios. Gerawan failed to provide the UFW with the information that it requested about the crops it would be planting and those it would be removing.” (Page 4)

• “In or about August 2014, in anticipation of changes under the federal Affordable Care Act, the UFW requested information from Gerawan about its health insurance plan, including a description of the plan, the contribution rates, and the identifies of employees eligible for coverage under the plan. Gerawan refused to provide the UFW with the information that it requested…” (Page 5)

Unilateral Changes

• “On or about Dec. 29, 2014, Gerawan instituted changes to its employee health insurance plans including but not limited to changing the health plan options for employees, changing the deductible, and modifying the percentage of the premium that Gerawan would pay. Gerawan failed to notify the UFW of the change to the health plan and failed to negotiate with the UFW over the change prior to implementing it.” (Page 5)

• “On or about July 1, 2015, Gerawan implemented a paid sick leave policy for its employees, thus providing a new benefit for its employees. Gerawan failed to notify the UFW of this new benefit that it was offering its employees and failed to negotiate with the union over this change to a mandatory subject of bargaining.” (Page 5)

Causes of Action

“…Gerawan committed unfair labor practices…by failing to provide the UFW with information that was relevant to the conduct of its duty as the collective bargaining representative. By refusing to provide the UFW with relevant information, Gerawan violated its duty under the [Agricultural Labor Relations] Act to bargain in good faith with the certified union.” (Page 6)

“By failing and/or refusing to provide the UFW with relevant information, Gerawan unlawfully interfered with and restrained its agricultural employees in the exercise of their rights under the Act.” (Page 6)

“…Gerawan committed an unfair labor practice…by making unilateral changes to mandatory subjects of bargaining without bargaining with [the] certified representative. [By doing so], Gerawan violated its duty under the Act to bargain in good faith the certified union. [By doing so], Gerawan unlawfully interfered with and restrained its agricultural employees in the exercise of their rights under the Act.” (Page 6)

“…the General Counsel [of the ALRB] seeks an order requiring [Gerawan], its officers, agents, successors, and assigns to: (Page 6)

“Cease and desist from…interfering with, restraining, or coercing agricultural employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed [by the ALRA]; Cease and desist from making unilateral changes to mandatory subjects of bargaining; Cease and desist from refusing to provide relevant information to the UFW; Rescind unilateral changes to Gerawan’s health plan, to the extent permitted by law, and commence good faith bargaining with the UFW concerning changes to the health plan; Rescind unilateral changes to Gerawan’s sick leave policy, to the extent permitted by law, and commence good faith bargaining with the UFW concerning changes to the sick leave policy.” (Page 7)

Accusations in the complaint issued by the ALRB general counsel will be presented along with evidence and testimony in a judicial proceeding before a state administrative law judge.

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