9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 12 billboarding; 10:30 a.m. board action
Alameda County supervisors challenge huge Central Valley grower accused of breaking law
Dozens of Gerawan workers & backers outside board meeting
Alameda County supervisors join an epic battle by farm workers to implement their union contract against a giant Central Valley grower—reminiscent of 1960s farm labor fights—by voting on a measure Tuesday, May 12 calling on Gerawan Farming to honor a contract issued in 2013 by a neutral mediator and approved by the state. Gerawan, one of the nation’s largest tree fruit and grape growers, sells in the Bay Area under its Prima label. The Fresno-based company, with 5,000 workers at peak season, is avoiding millions of dollars in pay increases and other benefits by refusing to honor the union contract.
Dozens of Gerawan farm workers traveling from the Fresno area as well as local supporters will form a human billboard line at 9:30 a.m. outside the County Administration Building, 1221 Oak Street, Oakland 94612, and then join the board hearing at 10:30 a.m. in support of the measure authored by Supervisor Richard Valle.
The resolution calls upon Gerawan Farming “to immediately implement the union contract issued by the neutral mediator and the state of California.” For the official resolution, see http://www.acgov.org/board/bos_calendar/documents/DocsAgendaReg_05_12_15/PAL/CAO_217844.pdf
Washington, D.C. became the latest city taking a stand on Gerawan when its City Council passed a similar measure on a 12-0 vote on May 5, 2015. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Oct. 22, 2014. See: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-union-fresno-farmworkers-20141022-story.html The San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted a measure March 31. The L.A. Unified School District Board of Education’s resolution passed on Feb. 10. See: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-unified-backs-ufw-20150210-story.html
An administrative judge with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board recently ended six months of hearings in Fresno on sweeping complaints or indictments from state prosecutors charging Gerawan with flagrant legal violations aimed at “prevent[ing] the UFW from ever representing its employees under a [contract]” and at decertifying, or getting rid, of the UFW, according to the ALRB general counsel, who issued the complaints. http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=view&b_code=gerawan_legal&b_no=15722&page=1&field=&key=&n=11 The latest state-issued complaint says, “Gerawan and its supervisors” unlawfully supported workers who “stopped work and engaged in anti-UFW and anti-ALRB protests [to promote] decertification [and that] Gerawan…coerc[ed] workers into participating in protests,” and closed its fields, directing workers to pro-company demonstrations. Gerawan also engaged in threats, interrogation and surveillance of workers, state prosecutors allege.
Meanwhile, Gerawan reacts to the indicting complaints by claiming without any proof that state investigators and prosecutors are biased, with help from Grover Norquist’s sophisticated Washington, D.C.-based PR campaign. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arturo-s-rodriguez/bigmoney-radical-right-gr_b_5786868.html
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