The Blog

August 26, 2014: PRESS RELEASE: More Than 1,000 Farmworkers Gather at ALRB Office to Demand Their Voices Be Heard

State officials, including the governor and ALRB, have repeatedly tried to deny Gerawan farmworkers their rights by not counting their votes

(FRESNO)—More than 1,000 farmworkers from Gerawan Farms again demonstrated outside the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) office in Visalia to demand their votes be counted and their voices be heard.

“Today we are here to make the ALRB hear us and tell them to stop listening to the UFW’s lies. We have repeatedly told the ALRB that we were not coerced into voting, we strongly oppose the union and want our votes counted. But the only people they listen to are the UFW and their lies,” said Silvia Lopez, a longtime farmworker at Gerawan and participant in today’s demonstration.

As part of today’s demonstration, farmworkers presented the ALRB regional office with more than 1,000 declarations signed under penalty of perjury that they were not coerced into participating in the November 5, 2013 decertification election.

In late 2012, the UFW showed up after 20 years and demanded a new contract that would give the union 3 percent of each farmworker’s wages. When farmworkers objected and started to work to remove the UFW, state officials began a now yearlong campaign to stop the farmworkers from firing the union, including:

  • The ALRB regional director tried three times to stop the Gerawan farmworkers from holding the decertification election.
  • The ALRB, whose members are appointed by the governor, has refused to count the votes from the November 5, 2013 decertification election.
  • The ALRB General Counsel took the farmworkers to court in order to try to force the contract on the farmworkers, despite an ongoing lawsuit on the contract and uncounted decertification ballots. The ALRB was unsuccessful in that effort.
  • The contract being pushed by both the UFW and ALRB would prohibit any decertification election for at least two years, meaning the workers would be forced to be in the union without any recourse for at least three years.

“The ALRB has been working with the UFW to silence us because we want to fire the UFW,” Silvia continued. “We have a right to decide that we don’t want to be represented by a union, and it seems that every state official, from the governor on down, has ignored us and is trying to force us to stay with the union. Every single one of them has violated the constitution they have sworn to protect and uphold. We’ve had enough. We demand our votes be counted immediately.”