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Fw: Farm labor board: Pictsweet Mushroom Farms guilty of bad-faith bargaining

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  • Norma J. F. Harrison
    ... From: Jocelyn Sherman, UFW To: Norma J F Harrison Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 3:07 PM Subject: Farm labor
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 24, 2003
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Jocelyn Sherman, UFW" <ufwofamer@...>
      To: "Norma J F Harrison" <normaha@...>
      Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 3:07 PM
      Subject: Farm labor board: Pictsweet Mushroom Farms guilty of bad-faith bargaining

      United Farm Workers

      Farm labor board: Pictsweet Mushroom Farms guilty of bad-faith bargaining

        In a decisive victory for United Farm Workers members at Pictsweet Mushroom Farms, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) in a unanimous vote ruled on March 14, 2003 that the Ventura, Calif. mushroom company is guilty of bad-faith bargaining, attempting to illegally get rid of the UFW and other serious violations of the law.

        In a lengthy decision (29 ALRB No. 1), the three members of the ALRB affirmed an earlier decision by a state administrative judge that an agent of management illegally offered a better job to a Pictsweet worker if he would sign a petition to decertify, or get rid, of the UFW. Any company involvement in a decertification drive is illegal under California law.

        Other violations for which Pictsweet has been found guilty include:

        · Failing to notify the union and bargain with the UFW over the company's decision not to grant a biennial pay raise in 2000, shortly after workers began pressing management for a union contract. Pictsweet provided modest pay hikes to mushroom pickers in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998, but not in 2000.

        ·  Stating a company policy in an employee manual that illegally informed workers they should not seek representation by "third parties"--meaning unions--and providing that violation of any company policy was the basis for being fired. The manual included a receipt form asking workers to sign it and acknowledge they were subject to being terminated for failing to obey all policies in the handbook.

        ·  Unilaterally laying off workers in 2000 without first negotiating with the UFW in violation of state law.

        ·  Failing to provide the UFW with information it requested about management's profit-sharing plan so the union could properly respond to company proposals during negotiations.

        The UFW has already begun the process of invoking California's pioneering farm worker mediation law against Pictsweet. The landmark UFW-sponsored legislation signed into law last year by Gov. Gray Davis is designed as a remedy for growers that have dragged out negotiations for years, and sometimes decades. Pictsweet workers have been trying to negotiate a union contract since 1987.

        This latest legal blow to Pictsweet followed a May 2002 ruling by the ALRB, upholding an earlier administrative judge's ruling in another case finding Pictsweet guilty of firing mushroom picker Fidel Andrade in retaliation for his support of the UFW and for engaging in other activities protected by California's farm labor law. The company was ordered to offer Andrade his job back and to reimburse him for all lost wages and benefits.

        The most recent set of negotiations between Pictsweet and its workers has gone on since 1999, with management refusing to respond to the workers' basic contract demands, the UFW states. The Cesar Chavez-founded union has contracts protecting about 70% of the mushroom workers on California's Central Coast.

      - end -

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