The message from the California Supreme Court to growers is that when farm workers vote for the union, a state law has teeth that can force companies to negotiate.
(Yesterday David Bacon examined a decades-long labor war being fought by Gerawan Farming against the United Farm Workers — a union against which the company has been accused of orchestrating a decertification campaign. His reporting concludes today with a look at Gerawan’s political allies and the company’s attempt to overturn a key California labor law.)
As this fight unfolds, national anti-union organizations are moving in. The far-right Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence joined the appeals case. In recent years the Center has joined the Harris v. Quinn suit against the Service Employees International Union in Illinois, sued the California Labor Commissioner on behalf of employers, argued for Hobby Lobby stores against providing birth control for their employees, and supported the initiative to end affirmative action in Michigan.
Furthermore, the Center for Worker Freedom, headquartered in the Washington, D.C. offices of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR),
When hundreds of people marched to the Los Angeles City Council last October, urging it to pass a resolution supporting a farm worker union fight taking place in California’s San Joaquin Valley, few had ever heard the name of the company involved. That may not be the case much longer. Gerawan Farming, one of the country’s largest growers, with 5,000 people picking its grapes and peaches, is challenging the California law that makes farm workers’ union rights enforceable. Lining up behind Gerawan are national anti-union think tanks. What began as a local struggle by one grower family to avoid a union contract is getting bigger, and the stakes are getting much higher.
The Gerawan workers got the City Council’s support and, on February 10, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution that went beyond just an encouraging statement. The LAUSD purchases Gerawan’s Prima label fruit through suppliers for 1,270 schools and 907,000 students.