A few days ago, in our workplace – PictSweet Mushroom Farms in Ventura – United Farm Workers agents distributed a document. This paper showed that the UCSB Associated Students Legislative Council, “endorsed” the UFW boycott of PictSweet products.
As workers of this company, we feel that this action is unfair because there is a majority that doesn’t support UFW actions here. Besides, A.S. never took us as the majority into account when deciding its stance on this boycott; far from it, A.S. never explained the action’s negative effects on our group of workers. It brought, as a consequence, job losses for more than 80 fellow workers – a number that increases every day. Also, we have 20 to 30 percent earning-losses for those still working here, and even worse, if the boycott continues, we may lose our jobs.
In view of all this, on Jan. 8, 2001, we presented before the Agricultural Labor Relations Board a decertification petition. The purpose of this was to permanently end all UFW actions here. This petition is supported by more than 50 percent of PictSweet workers. Later on, ALRB notified us that it had received and approved our petition, after fulfilling all legal requirements by sending a notice to all workers in preparation for a secret-ballot election process, where everyone would express whether or not they wished to be represented by UFW.
However, afraid of not having enough support during the election process, UFW sent a series of complaints to the ALRB aiming to block this process; these allegations mainly refer to the way we collected signatures to support the decertification petition, which according to the ALRB, was illegal.
On Jan. 17, 2001, in a general meeting at our workplace, an ALRB agent named Mauricio Nu-o explained to all of us the actual current legal situation of our election process and the demands that the UFW presented. Firstly, ALRB recognized that there was a majority asking for the election (more than 50 percent supported that petition), but Nu-o said that ALRB blocked it because of the allegations presented by UFW to ALRB. Nu-o requested that all of us be patient and wait for the explanation of the complaints process that will start on March 21, 2001. We don’t know how long it will extend, since UFW is raising complaint after complaint in efforts to delay, if not stop, the election process.
We believe that UFW may not have told A.S. the reality of our labor problem. That is why we send this information to you, since UFW, in its eagerness and self interest, has displayed a group of fellow workers before you and before the community, claiming they are a majority. This action violates the rights of all those who are opposed to them.
We request that A.S. review its position on the boycott endorsement matter, and we also look for your support in our efforts to get a free and democratic election – an election where everyone can choose and express aspirations and feelings. We look forward to improvements in our work conditions through an independent and direct representation with our employer.
Thank you all.
This column was written by the majority of PictSweet workers who oppose the actions of UFW.