Wonderful files lawsuit to strike down card check unionization law

The lawsuit comes amid a battle between Wonderful and United Farm Workers over attempts to unionize Wonderful Nurseries.

California’s new card check law intended to streamline farmworker unionization faces a major challenge in court by The Wonderful Co. 

The Wonderful Co. filed a lawsuit against the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) on Monday in Kern County Superior Court, arguing that the law is unconstitutional. 


The backstory: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2183 into law in 2022, allowing farmworkers to unionize by signing cards off-site. 

  • Under AB 2183, unions have the power to not notify employers about the cards. 
  • Once enough authorization cards have been signed, unions are able to file petitions with the ALRB and the employer to unionize. 

Driving the news: Over the last few months Wonderful Nurseries and United Farm Workers have been in a fight over the union’s attempt to unionize the Wasco-based company, which employs over 600 people. 

  • In March the ALRB said that UFW submitted 327 authorization cards, giving the union a majority among the employees at Wonderful Nurseries. But nearly 150 Wonderful employees just days earlier had submitted signed declarations to the ALRB saying they did not understand at the time that the cards were votes to unionize. 
  • The employees said the UFW held meetings and used $600 in federal relief to bait them into signing the cards. 

The big picture: Wonderful said in the lawsuit that it needed to file the lawsuit because it faces a June 3 deadline to agree to a deal with UFW or have the ALRB dictate it. 

  • The farming giant argues that the lawsuit is unconstitutional because it goes too far to cut employers out of the unionization process. 
  • It also argues that AB 2183 does not require the authorization cards to be dated and that there is no independent verification process to prove that a majority of employees support unionization. 
  • Wonderful is asking the court to issue an injunction to keep the law from being enforced until a verdict is found in the lawsuit. 

What they’re saying: UFW spokesperson Elizabeth Strater told the Associated Press that the lawsuit is unfortunate but not surprising, noting that the ALRB filed an unfair labor practice charge against Wonderful last month. 

  • “Wonderful Nurseries now wants to get rid of the law that protects farm workers,” Strater said. 
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