NLRB issues complaint against washington apple growers
NLRB Issues ComplaintAgainst WaShingtonApple Gmwem So far, the Teamsters have lost both of the elections conducted as part of their campaign to organize 15,000 packers employed…
NLRB Issues ComplaintAgainst
So far, the Teamsters have lost both of the elections
conducted as part of their campaign to organize 15,000
packers employed by Washington state apple growers.
But their margins of defeat were not large (161-121 in one
election, 290-205 in the other), and they have indicated
repeatedly that they plan to continue the campaign.
The union continues to try to take a bite out of the
growersâ resistance. In response to union complaints,
the NLRB recently held hearings on charges that two
growers engaged in unlawful campaign practices. One
employer, the complaint charges, interrogated employ-
ees regarding union activity and made an implied prom-
ise that the company would improve conditions if the
employees defeated the union. The other employer was
charged with using an outside labor consultant to en-
gage in illegal surveillance of employees at work and
with threatening employees that the US . Immigration
Service would raid the company if the union won the
election. Both companies were also charged with telling
employees that they would be blacklisted and unable to
obtain work if they voted for a union.
OCAW Intensifies Boycott
Against Emp 1 oyer
The Oil, Chemical, & Atomic Workers union has
taken new measures in its boycott of Crown Central
Petroleum. More than two years ago, the company
locked out 252 workers who are members of OCAW.
The union recently put out a brochure setting forth
its case and accusing the company ofracism, sexism, and
environmental destruction. The brochure solicits dona-
tions to help locked-out workers continue their cam-
paign. Also, spurred on by union accusations, 200 resi-
dents of the Pasadena, Texas, area, where the lockout
occurred, have filed a lawsuit charging the company
with damaging the environment.
UFW Makes Little Progress
Among Strawberry Workers
There are 20,000 strawberry pickers in California,
where 80 percent of the nationâs strawberries are grown.
The United Farm Workers, in something of a resurgence
under Arturo Rodriguez, son-in-law of the late UFW
founder Cesar Chavez, is in its third year of trying to
organize the strawberry pickers. So far, there hasnât
been a single UFW victory in the strawberry industry,
but the UFW has won 15 elections and signed 18 new
contracts since 1994.
Currently, the UFW is seeking to have the results of
the election at Coastal Berry, the nationâs largest straw-
berry grower, ruled invalid. The union charges that the
election was held in such a climate of violence and fear
that it refused to participate. The union also contends
that the group that won the election, the Coastal Berry
Farm Workers Committee, is a âsham union,â a front for
the company and the Western Growerâs Association, a
farming industry organization in Irvine, California.
The company and the association deny that they
had anything to do with the election or its results and
accuse the union of not being able to face the fact that
Coastal Berry employees do not want to be unionized.
A company spokesperson said Coastal Berry was the
wrong company for the UFW to target because it had
some of the highest wages and best benefits in the
$600-million-a-year strawberry industry.
Workers, the company, and the union do agree that
working conditions have improved since the organizing
campaign began. For example, since the campaign
began three years ago, Coastal Berry has started pro-
viding workers with health insurance benefits.
One key to organizing agricultural workers dear to
the UFW is Californiaâs Agricultural Labor Relations
Act, enacted 22 years ago, which was pushed by Mr.
Chavez and embraced by Democratic Governor Jerry
Brown. The act gives unions representing farm workers
the right to go on private property to talk to workers
about unionization before work, after work, and at lunch
for 120 days a year - a practice called âtaking access.â
âTaking access is very important to us,â said one
organizer. âWe can give our message to many workers at
the same time. We can get to know the workers person-
ally and identify the leaders. We can learn what their
problems are and gain their confidence.â
The agricultural industry continues to try to shut off
access. Unions donât have this access in any other indus-
try, which infuriates growers. They argue that the union
doesnât have to organize on private property, that it has
plenty of access through news media, meetings, and
visits to workersâ homes. They also argue that the rules
were made two decades ago, when many workers lived
in housing on the farmerâs property, but now are more
likely to live in town.
0 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
8 Management Report /October 1998