Agriculture · Highlight

Supreme Court schedules showdown for Fowler Packing case on union trespassing

Months after the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certoriari to review a hotly-contested legal battle over California’s farmworker labor laws, the high court has given the case – which involves a Valley packing house – an oral argument date.

The case, Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, will be heard by the nine-justice panel in Washington on March 22.

At the center of the controversy? The so-called “access rule” crafted by California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board to allow union organizers access to the premises of an agricultural employer for purposes of soliciting support for unionization.

Farmers allege that the state rule allows for government-authorized trespassing, creating considerable distraction for farm operations, without just compensation.

A Fresno County family-owned farming enterprise, Fowler Packing Company, is one of the lead litigants in the case.

For Fowler Packing, the case rests on a charge leveled by the United Farm Workers that the company denied organizers access to their plant on three days in July 2015.

UFW officials filed a charge against Fowler Packing before the ALRB alleging the violation of the Board’s access rule.

Six months later, the union moved to withdraw its charge against Fowler Packing with no explanation. The ALRB granted the withdrawal.

Fresno-based attorney Howard Sagaser serves on the legal team for northern California-based Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing with added support from the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.