The Agricultural Labor Relations Board has ordered the ballots in a 2013 worker election at Gerawan Farming finally be counted.
The ALRB issued the order on Friday. It directed Chris Schneider, the regional director of the Visalia Regional Office of the ALRB to “open and count the ballots in the Nov. 5, 2013 election...”
The ballot count will take place Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the State Building at 2550 Mariposa Mall St., Fresno. The ALRB anticipates the ballot count will begin at approximately 10 a.m. in Room 1036.
At the time, workers were attempting to oust the United Farm Workers union from representing them. But the election was mired in legal challenges and charges of unfair labor practices. And the ballots were never counted.
Tony Raimondo, the attorney representing Silvia Lopez, the Gerawan worker who launched the effort to oust the union, said the ballots should be counted as soon as possible.
Raimondo also sent a request to the ALRB asking for documents showing the “chain of custody” for those ballots. He is concerned about possible tampering.
“Make no mistake, based on what I have seen over the last five years, anything is possible,” Raimondo said.
The ballots in the disputed election have been impounded in the Visalia Regional Office.
Raimondo estimates that as many as 2,000 workers voted in the election. The outcome will settle the issue of whether Gerawan workers will be represented by the UFW.
The ALRB’s recent order comes two days after the state Supreme Court declined to review the case. The ALRB had asked the court to review the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno‘s 138-page decision that found fault with ALRB’s findings of unfair labor practices.