NFIB Files Amicus Brief in ALRB Case

Date: April 24, 2014

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center has filed an amicus brief in Gerawan Farms Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board.  This case asks whether it is constitutional for California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board to force a business owner into a collective bargaining agreement.

“This case is another example of government overreach into the lives of business owners,” said John Kabateck, NFIB/CA Executive Director.  “Government shouldn’t be able to strong arm a business owner to enter a collective bargaining agreementThis violates the business owner’s right to be free of compelled contracts, and gives unions inappropriate power.”

The United Farm Workers won an election to represent Gerawan Farming's workers 23 years ago. But after only one bargaining session, the union disappeared and wasn’t heard from for more than 20 years.

In October of 2012, the union reappeared, seeking to force the Gerawan Farming to enter a collective bargaining agreement that would have required its employees to give 3% of their income to the union. What followed was one of the largest decertification campaigns ever, as Gerawan’s employees gathered thousands of signatures asking the Agricultural Labor Relations Board for an opportunity to decertify the union as their representative.

Gerawan workers say the company offers the highest paying employment package in the industry, and the workers clearly do not want the union.  While the ARLB allowed a vote it has impounded the results and says it will not count them until it has investigated allegations that Gerawan exercised inappropriate influence.  Gerawan’s attorneys say that it is unlikely the votes will be counted anytime soon.

In the brief, NFIB argues that although the State can regulate the employer-employee relationship in many ways - California cannot compel a contract. Moreover, when the State seeks to impose a “collective bargaining agreement” on a business, it is actually imposing individualized legislative directives on a targeted business, which is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it means the business has been singled out for special burdens that are not applicable to similarly situated businesses.  

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