On the blow to labor, the US Supreme Court has revoked rules that allow union organizers to meet with agricultural workers three hours a day, up to 120 days a year, at their workplaces.
Two California farmers filed a lawsuit after a trade union organizer tried to access their property and talk to them.Plaintiff Cedar Point Nursery v HassidThe Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company argued that California regulations requiring such access were unconstitutional and unnecessary.
Cedar Point Nursery, based in Doris, grows strawberries for commercial producers near the Oregon border. Fresno’s Fowler Packing Company ships grapes and citrus fruits.
Wednesday’s 6-3 ruling was in line with ideology, with a conservative majority of the US Supreme Court agreeing with producers. They argued that access restrictions allowed “physical intrusion” of land without compensation.
Producers celebrated this decision, but labor activists say it will now be difficult to access workers and defend their rights. When the decision was announced, they vowed that it would not stop them from rising their ranks.
Big win for ag, bad news for labor
Nome Glute, president of the Monterey County Agricultural Department, which runs a private non-profit association of farmers and ranchers on the Central Coast of California, characterized the court’s decision as a major victory for agriculture, landowners, and farm management. ..
Groot said the decision defended property rights while prioritizing the safety of private farm operations and food safety.
“It’s good for food safety that visitors don’t break into the fields and talk to employees during breaks, lunch, and work,” he said.
The Western Growers’ Association, a private organization advocating for agricultural farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, also praised the decision, calling the union organizers “intruders” and “simple property rights proceedings.” called.
Not all California farmers are affected by this decision.
John Darigo, CEO of Salvador’s Darigo Brothers, said the Supreme Court’s ruling would not change the way he works with trade unions (UFW). The company sells produce under the brand name Andy Boy.
His workers have joined the union through the organization for about 40 years. The contract explicitly allows union representatives access to real estate and agricultural workers.
“I’m used to it, so it’s not a problem at all,” said Darigo. “We have a system and everyone understands the rules. Frankly, we have been well-known with UFW for many years.
“If you weren’t contracted and unfamiliar with (the organizer accessing your property), I could see it upset people, but for us it’s a way of life. “He said.
Trade unions absorbed the blow and the decision said they would not stop working with agricultural workers.
UFW Vice President Lauro Barajas was disappointed to hear that the Supreme Court ruled against labor, but was not dissatisfied.
“There is always something that inspires or encourages us to continue our work,” he said. “Frustration is like giving up, you can’t give up.”
Barajas said the Supreme Court’s ruling favored producers and historically had all power in the relationship between employers and workers. He said a recent ruling would give more power to producers.
“It’s not good news, but usually we don’t live with good news,” Barajas said.
Alternative form of communication
Farmers working on farms have been exempt from federal labor law since 1935.
Following the efforts of Cesar Chavez and other farm worker leaders, California created the California Agricultural and Labor Relations Act of 1975. In particular, the regulation allowed organizers to access farmers’ property three hours a day, up to 120 days a year, to discuss with employees and strengthen support for the union.
The company is to be notified before the organizer arrives, and the organizer can come to the store during non-working hours such as lunch or before and after work. Organizers rarely use this regulation-California said it used the regulation five times during the 2019-2020 budget year and 24 times the previous year.
The Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company challenged the regulation as unconstitutional and outdated as unions became able to reach workers in many ways, including smartphones and radio.
American trade unions have told judges that regulation is more necessary than ever. According to the union, agricultural workers are increasingly indigenous workers in Mexico, and the only effective way to communicate with them is directly in the field, as they do not have mobile phones and can only speak indigenous languages. Is to meet.
“Many of these workers live in employer-owned labor camps and are transported to and from the workplace, and these people are isolated,” said Elizabeth Stratter, director of strategic campaigns at UFW. Told. “They never leave the employer’s property. In some cases, they are isolated by design.”
What should an employer do?
Access restrictions are unique to California. However, trade unions and others have argued that corporate rulings could threaten regulations that allow governments to access private property, among other things, to carry out workplace health and safety tests.
Strator called the agricultural labor system racist and unequal, saying that “a judge in the Supreme Court, who takes pride in supporting local and state rules rather than federal rules, is a farm worker. It’s ironic that he decided that he should be defeated under both. “
“The Supreme Court was unable to balance the property rights of the farmers with the human rights of the farmers,” she said.
In a March court debate heard over the phone, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the court considered how to balance the rights of unions and property owners decades ago. I reported that. The court concluded that “it may not be accessible unless it can be shown that there is no alternative means of communication that exists.”
This ruling is the latest blow to the union by the court under Roberts.
In 2018, a conservative majority of courts allowed a 41-year-old union to require civil servants to pay some fees to the union representing them, even if workers chose not to participate. Overturned the decision in favor.
Still, it is unclear how much it will change as a result of the court’s ruling.
Michael Droke, a senior partner in the Food and Agriculture group of law firm Dorsey & Whitney, advises California farmers and co-operatives. He proposes that farmers review their policies and practices regarding access to farms and clearly mark their property to ensure that site boundaries can be established for the purpose of access to unions. did.
“Unions are still allowed to contact employers outside the producer’s premises,” he said. “Employee cars are parked next to the fields, so it’s easy to see where the producer’s employees are. However, generally applicable California law puts workers on the scene. Sending by may pose a risk of wages and time. “
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This story is part of the California Divide, a Cal Matters project. Kate Cimini is a journalist at The Californianian. (831) Share your story at 776-5137 or email us email@example.com..Apply Support local journalism.
Supreme Court invalidates Cali. rule allowing unions on grower property Source link Supreme Court invalidates Cali. rule allowing unions on grower property