NLRB issues complaint against washington apple growers

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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 WaShingtonApple Gmwem 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. âTaking Accessâ 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