United Farm Workers Turns Up Heat On California Growers

United Farm Workers Turns Up Heat On California Growers

This week, as high temperatures in parts of California’s Central Valley are expected to hover around 110 degrees, United Farm Workers (UFW) has been filing notices of intent to take access with the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).

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According to a report from Western Growers, more than 30 access filings have actually been submitted over the past month. In addition to the Central Valley, UFW organizers have visited a number of farms along the state’s southern and northern coasts.

In those instances when the UFW has taken access, it has typically occurred during the meal break. Organizers are asking employees about employer compliance with the heat illness regulations and passing out a heat illness compliance document asking for the workers’ contact information to be returned to the UFW.

Should the UFW serve your company with an official “Notice of Intent to Take Access,” Western Growers notes that the union will not be allowed to take access until such time that you receive notification from the regional director of the ALRB that the access petition has been filed.

Secondly, once properly filed, the UFW may take access to your agricultural operations three times daily: one hour in the morning before the start of work; one hour during the meal period; and one hour after the end of work.

The UFW is allowed two organizers per crew — up to 30 workers may take access — and one additional organizer for every 15 additional workers. Organizers must wear a badge identifying themselves by name and name of the union; and must identify themselves upon request.

While UFW personnel are on the premises, Western Growers recommends growers have their supervisory employees vacate the immediate area where organizers may be talking to workers or distributing literature. Supervisors should be out of eyeshot and earshot – a safe distance is at least 100 yards.

In addition, Western Growers emphasizes that growers should inform their supervisors not to interrogate workers about what the UFW has said or gave to them when the union organizers leave. This would constitute an unfair labor practice.

If you use farm labor contractors, their employees will be deemed your employees for purposes of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. Western Growers recommends you contact your labor contractor concerning access by union organizers before they begin access. Be sure that the same rules that apply for your supervisory employees also apply for those of the farm labor contractor.

If you have on-farm rules such as signing in at a gate before accessing the ranch, food safety, or speed limits, it is appropriate to consistently enforce these rules with union representatives. Finally, Western Growers says workers should be advised that they are not required to sign union authorization cards nor are they required to provide their home addresses and telephone numbers if they are requested by UFW organizers as part of this process.

Source: Western Growers