Workers voted to leave farming union years ago — but the union hid results and kept taking dues

Workers voted to leave farming union years ago — but the union hid results and kept taking dues
A California farm union hid the results of a vote in which workers elected to leave the union. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Farmers in Fresno, California, discovered this week that the union representing them had been taking their dues for years — even though the workers had overwhelmingly voted to leave the union, according to the Free Beacon.

Workers at the Gerawan Farming corporation found out Tuesday — only by way of a court order — that they had voted the union, United Farm Workers, out by a 5-1 margin. The union had just decided not to tell them.

“The voices of thousands of California farmworkers have been silenced for five years,” GOP Assemblyman Jim Patterson said. “For the farmworkers who have continued to fight to have their votes counted after many defeats and disappointments — justice has finally been served. Their voices have been heard loud and clear.”

How did this happen?

In 2013, the workers of Gerawan Farming voted in a decertification election to sever their relationship with the United Farm Workers union.

UFW, however, pushed back against the result of the vote. The union said Gerawan inserted itself into the electoral process, a claim backed up by an administrative judge at the time. Gerawan had allowed anti-union employees to get signatures on company time, while prohibiting union supporters from doing so.

UFW refused to tally the votes, claiming the election was tainted, and has continued to represent the workers and collect dues for the past five years.

Finally, the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that the refusal to count the votes was harmful to workers. So, it was revealed that 1,098 employees voted to leave the union, and only 197 voted to stay in the union.

“The result is a ringing endorsement of their right to choose, and a repudiation of concerted, unlawful, and anti-democratic efforts to deny them that right,” a Gerawan statement read. “We call on the UFW and the [Agriculture Labor Relations Board] to respect the choices of farmworkers, to certify the results of the election, and to decertify the UFW.”

The ALRB still has to certify the vote, which it has not indicated whether or not it will do as of Thursday.