In a win for farm worker unions, the California Supreme Court Monday upheld a law allowing the state to order unions and farming companies to reach binding contracts.
The ruling came in a dispute between Fresno-based Gerawan fruit growers and the United Farm Workers (UFW), the farm workers union founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in 1962.
Philip Martin, UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural economics, described one of the court's key findings:
"That the 2002 Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation Law - which allows a union to get a contract with a farm where it’s certified to represent workers within about a year - is constitutional,” said Martin. “That is, that the legislature has an interest in ensuring that workers who want to be represented by a union get a collective bargaining agreement relatively soon after a union is certified to represent them."
Gerawan Farming said in a statement Monday that the state Supreme Court's decision imposes the UFW on its current employees even though most of them did not vote for representation by the labor union.
Gerawan said it intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.
Of roughly 800,000 farm workers in California, less than 15,000 are represented by a labor union, according to Martin.