In a victory for America's biggest peach farm, a California appeals court has ruled that the state cannot force a union contract on a farmer after the sides fail to come to terms in mediation.
Gerawan Farms, a huge operation of more than 12,000 acres in California's Central Valley, has been locked in a standoff with the United Farm Workers, which returned to the farm three years ago after a 20-year absence, demanding a new contract.
Co-owner Dan Gerawan balked, and so did some of his workers. In November 2013, they held a vote on whether to decertify the union. Those votes have been locked up by the state Agriculture Labor Relations Board, which has held a multimonth hearing over whether Dan Gerawan violated rules and pressured his employees to vote out the UFW.
After that vote, the same labor board that presided over the mediation (and which is investigating the vote) imposed a contract on Gerawan. Such a move is allowed under a California law called Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) if no deal is reached through bargaining.
Gerawan challenged that contract in court and lost. Now, however, an appeals court has ruled in the farm's favor. (Tweet This)