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Wasco farmworkers claiming misrepresentation by labor union

Wonderful Farmworkers Protesting in Visalia
Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 27, 2024

VISALIA, Calif. (KERO) — About 100 farm workers from the Wasco Wonderful Nurseries Facility staged a walkout to protest their claims of misrepresentation by the United Farmworkers.

  • 23ABC spoke with farm workers at the protest and received statements from the UFW, Wonderful Nurseries, and ALRB for this story.
  • The farm workers claim they signed union representation paperwork under false pretenses, the UFW is claiming Wonderful Nurseries is pushing its employees to protest for fear of consequence, Wonderful Nurseries is claiming that the UFW is exploiting the farm workers and the ALRB is holding a hearing to get to the bottom of the situation and issue a judgment.
  • According to Yesenia De Luna, the Region 2 Director for the ALRB, the hearing is scheduled to resume in Bakersfield on April 9.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

I'm Sam Hoyle, you're Wasco neighborhood reporter, here in Visalia, as about 100 farm workers at the Wonderful Nurseries location in Wasco are claiming that they are being misrepresented by the United Farm Workers.

According to workers who attended the protest. They are claiming that they signed union representation paperwork under false pretenses and are asking the Ag Labor Relations Board to nullify their union status.

"We don't need a union to come, when we already have years, I have 20 years working at this nursery. I wouldn't be working here for so long if something wasn't working, if we weren't heard, or if there were things that I didn't agree with—I wouldn't be there," said Claudia Chavez.

In a press release earlier today, the UFW claims that Wonderful Nurseries is behind the anti-union protest that took place Wednesday at the Agricultural Labor Relation Board office, citing that employees are attending for fear of consequences saying in part:

"This effort to intimidate pro-union workers and coerce workers into attending this company-instigated anti-union demonstration is a gross violation of farm worker's labor rights."

In a statement from Rob Yraceburu, President of Wonderful Nurseries, they claim that the UFW is exploiting its employees saying quote:

"The UFW was able to unionize by a margin of just seven votes, even though almost half of the farmworkers who signed union authorization cards testified to rampant fraud and misrepresentation by the UFW. "

According to a representative from the ALRB, a hearing is underway to get to the bottom of the situation, it started Monday and it will continue on April 9th.

"The ALRB is diligently investigating the claims in this matter. A hearing is also underway where all parties will have the opportunity to be heard," said Yesenia De Luna over the phone reading a written statement.

UPDATE:
A new statement from Wonderful Nurseries:

“Throughout this process, farmworkers have said they felt misled by the UFW, and that the union misused a federal grant program and outright lied about virtually all their actions related to organizing under the “card check” program. This is now the latest instance in which they have sought to mislead. Today, almost one hundred farmworkers, on their own accord, gave up their pay to travel and protest the state labor board and the UFW and say they did not want to be part of any collective bargaining or organizing effort. And, rather than expressing any shame about their behavior, the UFW instead tried to deflect onto Wonderful, which remains among the only ones trying to protect farmworkers as opposed to the UFW or the ALRB.”

The UFW has also filed an Unfair Labor Charge with the ALRB against Wonderful Nurseries. To read that click this link.


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