Lost On Vacation San Diego Part Two PORTABLE
On July 23, 1998, the Coastal Berry Farmworkers Committee won an electionto represent the 1,000 farm workers employed at Coastal Berry Inc. by a vote of523 for the CBFC and 410 opposing the union. Coastal workers in Santa Cruz,Monterey and Ventura counties cast ballots. On July 24, 1998, about 600 of the900 Coastal workers went on strike to protest the election; Coastal threatenedto hire replacement workers.Coastal, with 775 acres of strawberries, is the largest berry grower in theUS that hires workers directly. Marketers such as Driscoll obtain berries fromindependent growers who hire workers. According to Coastal, base pay for berryworkers is $6.50 an hour, and most workers earn $10 to $11 underpiecerates.The Coastal vote was seen as a major setback for the UFW, which has beentrying for three years to organize berry workers: the San Francisco Examinercalled it "one of the most devastating ballot box defeats" in the UFW'shistory. The UFW had spent millions of dollars organizing at Coastal andenlisted the help of the AFL-CIO to locate union-friendly buyers of Coastal.The CBFC petitioned for an election on July 16, 1998 with 550 workersignatures. The UFW could have had its name on the ballot by submitting 200signatures. Instead, the UFW filed unfair labor practice charges with the ALRBin a failed attempt to block the election, alleging that the CBFC is anemployer-dominated organization and that Coastal denied the UFW access to 40percent of its workers--the UFW argued that it was not possible to have a fairelection at Coastal. The UFW urged its supporters to vote no union on theballot.The ALRB follows a "vote now, litigate later" policy so that migrants canvote before they move on to another farm. After the election was held, the UFWasked the ALRB not to certify the CBFC as bargaining agent at Coastal. The UFWcontended that Coastal workers could not make a free choice about unionrepresentation because Coastal supervisors intimidated them into supporting theCBFC. As evidence, the UFW showed a video of a CBFC protest on July 1, 1998;the wife of a Coastal supervisor is shown throwing strawberries at a womanwearing a UFW shirt. The CBFC worker who signed the petition to hold theelection was arrested on July 1 for assault. The UFW later amended its chargeto include the allegation that 162 recently laid off Coastal employees inOxnard were not advised of the election; the ALRB scheduled a September hearingon this UFW charge.Coastal also objected to the election, echoing the UFW's charge that theCBFC is not an independent union.Under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the CBFC cannot beginbargaining with Coastal until the ALRB certifies that CBFC won the election,which normally occurs within five days, if there are no objections. The ALRBsaid that the UFW's objections to the election raised two "novel legal issues"that required resolution by the full five-member board: (1) whether the UFW,which was not on the ballot, can raise objections to the election; and, (2)whether Coastal workers (in the bargaining unit) can object to the election.Under NLRB procedures, only parties involved in the election may fileobjections to it. The ALRB, in a July 15, 1998 decision rejecting the VenturaCounty Agricultural Association's effort to have the Swanton Berry Farmselection won by the UFW overturned on the grounds that employment was not atleast 50 percent of peak, concluded that only "actual parties to an election"may file objections--the union requesting an election, the employer and anyintervening unions.If the CBFC is certified, the UFW would be barred from attempting toorganize Coastal workers for at least one year. Strawberry shipments in the first half of 1998 were five to 10 percentlower than usual in the two major states, California, which typically produces80 percent of US fresh strawberries, and Florida, which accounts for fivepercent.On July 28, the ALRB was called to testify before the CaliforniaLegislature by Senator Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) who asked the ALRB not to holdthe election. Solis asserted that "The ALRB is dysfunctional. It's clearly incollusion with the growers." Solis promised more oversight hearings on theALRB.Cesar Chavez died in 1993, and was replaced as UFW president by ArturoRodriguez, his son-in-law. Rodriguez re-emphasized worker organizing andsigning contracts, and the UFW won 18 elections and obtained 10 new contractsbetween 1994 and 1998, increasing its membership from about 20,000 to 26,000.In 1995, the UFW set out to organize the 20,000 strawberry workers concentratedin the Watsonville area. The setback at Coastal may put the viability of theUFW's new strategy in doubt.On August 5, the Wall Street Journal reported that St. Louis-basedMonsanto, responding to pressure from Vice President Al Gore, House MinorityLeader Richard Gephardt and former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, foundunion-friendly buyers for its Coastal subsidiary, financed the purchase, andlent Coastal money to expand. In one memo, the new owners of Coastal said that"the Company is in favor of having the union [UFW] for the benefit of theCompany and its employees" and specifically gave UFW Vice President EfrenBarajas "access to the employer's properties to the full extent permitted" bylaw. However, Coastal supervisors in the fields appeared to beanti-UFW.The farm value of strawberries produced in 1997 was $686 million, up from$585 million in 1996. Many growers have switched to electronic recording ofpiece rate worker productivity. Each worker has a microprocessor attached tohis hat or shirt that is "read" by a checker or foreman; the data determinewages and provide management information, including yields per acre.In mid-August, Bear Creek Production Co., the world's biggest roseproducer, signed a new three-year contract with the UFW covering 1,400 workerswhich increases wages by two, 2.5, and two percent, during the next threeyears. Bear Creek's contributions to the RFK Medical Plan are $1.11 in 1998and will rise to $1.20 in 1999 and $1.30 in 2000. The UFW's contract withWasco rose grower Bear Creek (Jackson-Perkins) expired June 30, 1998. The UFWwon an election to represent the 1,400 Bear Creek workers in December 1994, andsigned a first agreement on March 17, 1995.On September 21, 1998, the UFW won an election on a vote of 27-18 at the580-acre Anderson Vineyards Inc. in Mendocino County; Anderson is wholly ownedby Roederer Estates, a French champagne maker. Anderson workers went on strikeon September 10, rejecting a company offer of $90 a ton to harvest grapes.After the strike, the company upped the piecerate to $95, but workers walkedout again at the end of September to protest Anderson's hiring of a laborconsultant and filing objections to the election.Convention. The UFW, which held its 14th convention on September 5and 6 at the Fresno Convention Center, announced that it has more than 26,000members and about 40 contracts. UFW leaders said that they would continueorganizing farm workers and that they would try to re-negotiate expiringcontracts. Several hundred delegates, farm workers and guests heard an arrayof Democrats urge the election of Gray Davis as governor. UFW membership data is hard to interpret. In most years, the UFW reportsabout $1 million in member dues on its LM-2 report to DOL. If the average UFWworker under contract earns $12,000 a year and pays dues of two percent or $240a year, then $1 million in member dues implies 4,167 year-round equivalentmembers. If UFW members have average annual earnings of $8,000, and thus pay$160 in dues, then $1 million in member dues implies 6,250 members.The UFW announced newly reached or signed contracts covering 75 workerswith vintner Vista Vineyard Management in Napa, 150 workers at San JoaquinTomato Company in Stockton, and 100 workers at Balletto Farms in Sonoma county(Vista inherited the UFW's Christian Brothers contract when it bought the firmfrom Heublein). On July 28, 1998, the UFW won an election by a vote of 69-0 at BallettoFarms in Sonoma county after a one-day strike; there were 21 challengedballots. Workers complained of working 12-hour days for $5.75 an hour. Underthe new contract, wages will rise $0.50 an hour on January 1, 1999, receivevacation pay after working 1,000 hours a year, and receive four paid holidays,including March 31, the birthday of Cesar Chavez.The UFW announced that it was negotiating contracts involving 350 workersat San Clemente Farms in north San Diego county, 500 workers at WaterdamPacking in Kings county, 400 workers at Gallo in Sonoma and a peak 1,700workers at D'Arrigo Brothers in Salinas.The UFW launched the Farm Worker Service Center several decades ago, and ithas focused on building 1,600 units of housing since its inception andoperating a series of radio stations.Other. On August 5, 800 of the 900 field workers employed byD'Arrigo Brothers in Salinas went on strike to protest slow negotiations for acontract with the UFW (D'Arrigo also employs 600 workers in Brawley and Huron).There have been four bargaining sessions since June 1998. Walkouts and strikescontinued until, on August 11, a Monterey County judge granted D'Arrigo atemporary restraining order against striking harvest workers and the UnitedFarm Workers union. David A. D'Arrigo was killed in a car accident in August, prompting the UFWto call off strikes and to schedule a negotiating session for September 23,1998. The UFW filed charges with the ALRB charging that D'Arrigo engaged inbad-faith bargaining and made unilateral changes by using a farm laborcontractor to obtain 150 replacement workers to harvest rapini, an Italianvegetable that is part of the broccoli family.The UFW won an election at D'Arrigo Brothers in 1975 and has made periodicattempts to win a contract since. According to D'Arrigo Brothers, the UFW hadnot made demands since 1993, and now wants a contract immediately. D'ArrigoBrothers said its field workers are guaranteed $6.50 an hour, but under currentpiecerates, broccoli harvesters earned an average $11 an hour in 1998.D'Arrigo Brothers also offers seniority rights, paid holidays and ananniversary bonus, along with medical and dental benefits at no cost toworkers. The UFW is demanding a joint union/management-run health plan, apension program and a grievance-arbitration procedure to settledisputes.On July 10, 1998, 18 farm workers in Kern county divided $162,000 providedby the Dole Farming Company to settle a 1994 Unfair Labor Practice that Dolefired them after they complained about a new work schedule in May 1994. TheALJ decided, and the ALRB affirmed, that Dole committed an 1153 (a) UnfairLabor Practice by firing and refusing to rehire the 18 members of the spraycrew who had engaged in protected concerted activity, for example, refusing towork under the new work schedule 22 ALRB 8 (1996). Dole announced plans toappeal, contending that the workers quit, but in July 1996 settled. DoleFarming Company is the Bakersfield-based grape, tree fruit and citrus part ofDole Food Company.Some of the 1,700 peak workers employed by table-grape grower Vincent B.Zaninovich & Sons protested Zaninovich's refusal to rehire them in August1998. In the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, about 80 vineyard and wineryworkers called a spontaneous strike in September 1998 at the Roederer Estatewinery, seeking UFW representation and higher pay than the $6.25 an houroffered them to harvest. Roederer is owned by Champagne Louis Roederer ofFrance.Unions. In 1997, there were 29 strikes involving 1,000 workers ormore, the lowest number since World War II, and about half the amount of adecade ago and one-eighth the level two decades ago. Unions now represent 14percent of the work force, down from 35 percent in the 1950s.Some observers credit the demise of strikes to enlightened management:Douglas Fraser, former president of the United Auto Workers and now a professorof labor relations at Wayne State University says that in many cases "Companiesand unions are finding different ways to find solutions to problems." Otherssay that management is more anti-union than ever, and fear is limiting strikes.Daniel Kruger, a professor of industrial relations at Michigan StateUniversity, said "Sure, we're going to have occasional strikes, but nothing ofthe magnitude we had in the past because it's very dangerous to go on strike.People see it's easy to call a strike, but hard as hell to end a strike and towin a strike."Unions represent 14 percent of US workers. The AFL-CIO reported that itsaffiliated national unions added nearly 400,000 new members in 1997, butnonetheless, union membership is down by more than 200,000 since early 1996because of layoffs, plant closings and other factors.In August 1998, William B. Gould IV, is the first African American to chairthe National Labor Relations Board, retired as chairman of the NRLB andreturned to Stanford Law School. Gould accused Congressional representativesof meddling in NLRB affairs; many Congressional representatives accused Gouldof being pro-union. The NLRB has 52 regional offices and 1,900 employees to supervise 3,000elections and deal with 33,500 unfair labor practice complaints a year. Unionslost a net 159,000 members in 1997. Gould considers mail ballots in unionrepresentation elections a very useful innovation.
lost on vacation san diego part two