Anybody Get The Number Of That Truck? - UFW Wins Second Election this Month

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09/23/2017

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Anybody Get The Number Of That Truck? - UFW Wins Second Election this Month

By: Michael Saqui

The United Farm Workers Union (UFW) is now two-for-two, winning its second election in one month. The UFW moved fast and hit hard. Blueberry workers at Klein Management, Inc. voted overwhelmingly in favor of UFW representation this weekend, 347 to 68 – 82% in favor. Events transpired quickly with protests starting on Tuesday May 17, and a strike and petition for recognition filed on Wednesday, May 18. Due to the accompanying strike, the election was held three days later on Saturday, May 21. The UFW got to revel in the win at the UFW convention this past weekend attended by Former President Bill Clinton and California Governor Jerry Brown.

Among the worker complaints leading to their protests were a reduction of the piece rate offered, non-payment of overtime, foul-smelling water, and dirty bathrooms. Klein also fired three blueberry crews, which the UFW argues was in retaliation for protests about the lowering of the piece rate. Klein defended its piece rate, saying that the stating the market dictates the piece rate. That argument clearly did not get much traction as the UFW painted it as simply an attempt to drum up additional profits for the company. The day after the termination of the crews, the UFW had already been called and a full-blown protest was underway.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

This past weekend’s events highlight the importance of growers taking control of their Farm Labor Contractor (FLC) relationships. While the termination of the three blueberry crews was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back, problems with the treatment of workers, overtime compliance, sexual harassment, and issues as mundane as “the water that we use to wash our hands, it has… a strong bad smell” are often the ones that see workers calling the Union for help. The UFW in turn is looking for “soft targets” where it knows it can cherry pick a winning election. The weakest link is often the FLC relationship. If you are facing an election, a strike, or both, it is important to retain counsel and to do so quickly, as strikes can lead to an election within 48 hours. Better yet, call the experts at the Saqui Law Group to make sure that the kind of missteps that led to this election do not happen to you.


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