Farming giant claims UFW lied to farmworkers to unionize under new law

Union officials allegedly told workers for Wonderful Nurseries that signing a form to unionize would help secure $600 in Federal financial relief.

United Farm Workers and Wonderful Nurseries, owned by farming giant The Wonderful Company, are currently in a fight over the union’s attempt to bring the Wasco company’s 600-plus farmworkers into the fold. 

An apparently successful card check campaign to unionize Wonderful Nurseries faces allegations of a scheme involving $600 federal relief funds. 


The backstory: Two years ago, California Governor signed Assembly Bill 2183 into law, making it easier for farmworkers to unionize. 

  • AB 2183, known as the card check law, allows farmworkers to unionize by signing cards off-site, giving unions the power to not notify employers. 
  • With enough authorization cards in hand, unions are able to file petitions with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and the employer. 
  • Opponents to the law stressed that card check removed protections for workers and employers, opening the door to fraud and intimidation of workers.

Driving the news: Two weeks ago, around 100 Wonderful Nurseries employees protested at the ALRB office in Visalia over recent UFW off-site meetings to garner support for unionization. 

  • Last month the ALRB determined that UFW had submitted 327 authorization cards, establishing a majority among the 640 workers employed at Wonderful Nurseries. 
  • But that came just days after nearly 150 employees submitted signed declarations saying that they did not understand at the time that the cards they were signing were votes to unionize. 
  • They claim UFW held meetings and used $600 in federal relief to bait them into signing the cards. 
  • Multiple employees told the LA Times that they were given a card to sign at the meetings, which they thought was to claim $600 and were not told that they were cards to unionize. 

The other side: UFW has denied the allegations, telling the LA Times that they are “categorically false.” 

  • UFW filed a charge with the ALRB claiming that Wonderful Nurseries pressured its employees into attending the Visalia protest. 
  • Further, Martinez Aguilasocho Law – a law firm with offices in Fresno and Bakersfield that frequently represents UFW – filed charges with the California Civil Rights Department claiming Wonderful Nurseries has a hostile work environment because it does not provide sexual harassment training. 

What they’re saying: Wonderful President Rob Yraceburu said in a statement that all managers receive mandatory training and are provided with the employee handbook which includes a harassment policy. 

  • “It’s getting harder to keep up with the fire hose of lies the UFW is pushing in their effort to divert attention from their fraudulent conduct in a vote decided by just seven votes, but where more than 150 farmworkers say they were misled,” Yraceburu said. 
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