Lawyers for Amaral Ranches, Chular filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Farm Workers Union in Monterey County citing that the union is violating state law by continuing to strike until the company recognizes them as the exclusive bargaining representative despite the fact that the UFW has not yet been certified as such by the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).
Union representatives told Amaral Ranches that workers would not return to their jobs until the company waived its right to file any unfair labor practice with the ALRB; waived its right to file post-election objections and signed a "take it or leave it" pre-drafted contract.
"Never in my 22 years practicing labor law have I ever seen such a deliberate effort by a union to violate the law given that they are not certified to act on behalf of the employees," says Mike Saqui, lawyer for Amaral Ranches. "The union is conducting a strike to force my client to either sign a contract with them or be forced out of business. As a result, we are pursuing all remedies with the ALRB including financial for lost business."
The lawsuit is the latest action in a tumultuous week which has seen the Agricultural Labor Relations Board force Amaral Ranches into an election in just 29 hours which violates the ALRB's own 48-hour strike election rule. The ALRB also ordered the immediate voting of more than 200 demonstrators who protested in front of the ALRB regional office even though the employer had retained legal counsel less than twenty-four hours earlier which again violated its own election rules.
This comes after more than 200 farmworkers protested next to Gonzales lettuce fields and outside the ALRB office in Salinas. Farmworkers were on strike because of the injustices in the workplace, says Efren Barajas, vice president for the local UFW chapter in Salinas.
Amaral Ranches grows and packs a variety of fruits and vegetables including cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, broccoli and cabbage.