Fresno, California – Calling it an effort to mislead, the Farm Employers Labor Service or FELS, is warning Ag employers of an approach by the Agriculture Labor Relations Board to prospect for labor claims. Datatech is a FELS member and wanted to share the latest with you.
In a recent post from Bryan Little of FELS, he states that the California ARLB has been seeking to “educate” farm workers about their rights to seek better working conditions, if such is needed or warranted, in accord with the Agriculture Labor Relations Act. Little says, “In an abortive effort to provide worker education, the Board tried in 2015 to grant itself through regulation the right to take “educational access” in much the same way the Board grants labor unions the right to trespass on farms and ranches to “meet and talk with employees.””
The plot has thickened recently says Little, “After recently opening an office in Santa Rosa, the ALRB has contacted area agricultural employers to invite them to an “open house,” an apparent effort at community outreach hoping to shed the Board’s adversarial image. In the same communication, Board staff also requested “ag tours” for the ostensible purpose of learning more about agriculture, “on a friendly basis and with no intention behind it … to see the workers in action and get an idea what their duties are like.” In fact, in their communications Board staff describe the tour they want as “kind of like a wine tour but except in this case we would just like to tour the fields and see the workers in action, without distracting them or making them stop their duties at work.” Undoubtedly, these “wine tourists” would come armed with ALRB business cards and pamphlets like this one and this one, intended to encourage workers to file unfair labor practice charges and infused with a distinct anti-employer tone.”
This approach says, Little, is like a ‘Trojan Horse,’ trying to promote goodwill but with ill intentions.
Says Little, “The Board staff’s efforts to deceive the unwary about their intentions is concerning. FELS suggests that agricultural employers should be aware of the likely purpose of this seemingly innocent “outreach” effort, and be particularly wary of requests for “wine tours,” “educational tours,” or any other effort to gain access to farms under the guise of seeking to learn more about agriculture. Your reward for “educating” Board staff could be a flurry of unfair labor practice charges, brought to you by the Board staff’s “Trojan horse” outreach.”
Experts in farm labor relations say it’s always good to have a running dialogue with workers and worker’s groups, seeking to understand if conditions are meeting their expectations, and, if any improvements are being sought. They say that it’s better to know, than to be surprised.
Datatech serves employers in the Ag industry in California and across America. Employers use the Farmer’s Office and the Labor Contractor’s Office software applications for ag cost-accounting and payroll.