Testimony on decertification before Mark Soble, an administrative law judge with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), is in its seventh week and resuming Friday morning in Fresno, California. ALRB's General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen, who is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the case, has alleged that Gerawan Farming carried out unfair labor practices, engaged in bad-faith bargaining, and tainted workers.
Gerawan argues differently.
"This case from the beginning has been hide and seek by the general counsel," said Ronald Barsamian, an attorney for Gerawan. "We're still waiting for the UFW to put on its case—let alone the ALRB. If it's not hide and seek, it's just not preparing adequately for this case."
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The allegations against Gerawan—America's largest grower of peaches, plums and nectarines—are contained in a 28-page consolidated complaint filed in early September. ALRB's Torres-Guillen, who was appointed to the job in 2011 by Governor Jerry Brown, is a former federal attorney who has issued five complaints so far against Gerawan following an investigation by state agents.
On Thursday, two new witnesses testified before the judge: Louise Villagrana, a manager for charter bus company Classic Charter, and Jeanette Mosqueda, an administrative assistant for the UFW. The two were on an email exchange dating from October 2013 that raised questions about whether Gerawan was involved in supporting or encouraging protest activities to decertify the UFW. Two weeks ago, a rep from the union reported the email to the ALRB.
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On Thursday, the judge grew frustrated with the ALRB staff attorneys over witness scheduling delays and later criticized them for failing to uncover the email document on their own during an earlier 10-month investigation.
"As soon as we knew about it, we informed (ALRB) general counsel," UFW attorney Ivan Aguilasocho told the judge. Asked why the union didn't know about the existence of the email earlier, he responded, "I think at this point it's an internal matter."