12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Norquist’s office, 10 a.m. council vote
Grover Norquist, used to coercing others, will be confronted by farm workers for propping up giant Calif. grower accused of flagrant lawbreaking
Follows D.C. City Council vote on joining epic farm labor battle
Grover Norquist is famous for bullying elected officials over taxes and government shutdowns. But Norquist will find himself the subject of a confrontation at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday—Cinco de Mayo—by farm workers and their supporters for orchestrating a slick PR campaign propping up a giant California grape and tree fruit grower accused by state prosecutors of multiple, serious and repeated labor law violations.
Earlier Tuesday, the Washington, D.C. City Council will enter the epic battle by farm workers seeking to implement their union contract by voting on a measure calling on Gerawan Farming Inc. to honor a contract issued in 2013 by a neutral mediator and approved by the state. Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, through its the Center for Worker Freedom, has staged PR events and paid for freeway billboards to help the Fresno, Calif.-based company avoid millions of dollars in pay increases and other benefits for its 5,000 workers by refusing to honor the state-issued union contract. See: https://www.atr.org/center-worker-freedom-launches-billboard-campaign-support-fresno-farm-workers
—12:30 p.m.: Gerawan workers from California will join local supporters, including Metro Washington Labor Council President Joslyn Williams, plus United Farm Workers Vice President Giev Kashkooli as they attempt to personally confront Norquist at his Americans for Tax Reform offices at 722 – 12th St., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20005.
—9 a.m.: Earlier, farm workers will march from Norquist’s office (722 – 12th St., N.W ) to City Hall (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) for a 9:30 a.m. news conference with backers of the Gerawan resolution authored by Councilmember Anita Bonds.
—10 a.m.: The City Council will debate and vote on the resolution.
The council resolution calls upon Gerawan Farming to refrain “from violating state and federal laws regarding labor relations, anti-discrimination, and minimum wage and hour requirements, and to respect the legal rights of their employees.”
Washington, D.C. is the latest city taking a stand on Gerawan. 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
The Gerawans have attacked elected officials with TV and mail hit pieces for challenging them, including former California state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and current Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.
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 Norquist’s sophisticated PR campaign. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arturo-s-rodriguez/bigmoney-radical-right-gr_b_5786868.html
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