Ag Today October 25, 2016

Gerawan Farming settles 2013 labor charge with UFW



Gerawan Farming, the United Farm Workers union and the Agricultural Labor Relations Board have entered into a settlement agreement over a 2013 charge that the Fresno County farming company violated state labor law.

The Fresno County tree fruit grower has been at odds with the union over representing its workers. In 2013, the grower was accused by the UFW of not supplying accurate employee contact information to the union. A second and third complaint were later filed, accusing the grower of the same problem.

“Supplying accurate worker information, especially home addresses, is necessary so the union can effectively communicate with its members, including when they are preparing to negotiate their union contract as they were in 2013,” union officials said in a statement Monday.

The ALRB investigated the allegations and concluded Gerawan had violated the state Agricultural Labor Relations Act by not supplying accurate employee contact information.

A hearing was scheduled to hear the complaints Nov. 1, but the parties reached the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to several things, including providing accurate addresses to the union, reminding employees to provide their correct addresses and making a reasonable effort to fix problem addresses flagged by the union.

Gerawan attorney Ron Barsamian said not having accurate or current employee addresses is a common problem for agriculture employers.

“Some employees can be very reluctant to turn over personal information such as addresses because of a fear over immigration status and, in general, they wish to remain private,” Barsamian said.

In the settlement, the ALRB makes it clear that the agreement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Gerawan.

“The parties enter into this agreement to avoid expense, delay, uncertainty and burden of litigation,” according to the agreement.