Now that the June primaries are over, news arrives about another vote of great significance. This one took place in 2013 but a state labor board refused to count the ballots. Californias Fifth District Court of Appeal has now demanded that the board reveal the results.
Agricultural workers at Gerawan Farms, one of the largest peach, plum and nectarine growers in the state, signed a contract with the United Farm Workers in 1990. More than 20 years later, 99 percent of those workers never voted for the UFW, but the union demanded that workers pay the union 3 percent of their wages. Those who refused would be fired.
The UFW invoked a 2003 law that empowers three people appointed by the governor, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, to impose wages and working conditions. Employers and employees alike have no ability to opt outa Don Corleone-style offer they cant refuse.
In April 2013, the ALRB compelled Gerawan to adopt the agreement to force the worker payments. The employees, who earn the highest wages in California agriculture, cried foul. They held protests outside ALRB offices, and the agency finally agreed to let them vote to decertify the UFW.
In November 2013 they voted but the ALRB impounded the ballots and complied with UFW demands that they not be counted. The appeal court ruling demands a tally of the results and also ruled that the ALRB erred in its charge of unfair labor practices on the part of Gerawan.
The court also ruled that the ALRB neglected the farmworkers right to choose but UFW boss Armando Elenes slammed the ruling as pro-grower. The ALRB has yet announced no plan to comply with the ruling and count the workers votes.
The public does not get to vote for the ALRB members. Gov. Jerry Brown established that body in 1975, when he first held the office, and it reflects his affection for unelected government.The UFW once boasted some 50,000 dues-paying members but in 2013 it was down to fewer than 5,000 members. Even so, the appointed ALRB acted as an advocate for UFW bosses rather than a champion of the workers right to choose.
Elected officials, the courts, and the media should monitor carefully the way ALRB counts the workers ballots and reveals the results. Meanwhile, the ALRB and UFW wont be on the primary or general election ballots, but their undemocratic behavior gives Californians good cause to wonder about voter fraud statewide.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein claims theres simply no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this country. Yet, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla refuses to reveal information on the states 19 million voters.
Unlike the ALRB case, no court ruling or legislative order demands that Padilla reveal the data. So on the issue of widespread voter fraud, theres plenty of room for reasonable doubt.
|K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent Briefing, Cross-Currents in California Water: A Case Study of Bureaucracy Versus Tradable, Private Water Rights.|