VISALIA, CALIF. -- Farm workers will gather in Visalia, California on Tuesday to protest their treatment by state labor officials.
Workers at Fresno-based Gerawan Farming Inc, led by Silvia Lopez, do not want to be forced to pay three percent of their wages to the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Last November Gerawan workers held a decertification election, but the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is refusing to count the votes in a flagrant attempt to help the UFW rob the workers of their hard-earned money.
Ms. Lopez will speak at a protest held at the ALRB regional offices in Visalia beginning at 3:00 p.m. today, August 26. Supporters of the United Farm Workers were also expected to have a presence, though Center for Worker Freedom Executive Director Matt Patterson says he hopes the proceedings will unfold without incident.
"The Gerawan workers have a positive message that they want to deliver peacefully: They just want their votes counted," said Patterson. "We hope the union, and the ALRB, will allow Ms. Lopez and her colleagues to speak their mind."
Lopez is also challenging the ALRB in court, suing individual board members including Genevieve Shiroma, Cathryn Rivera-Hernandez, and J. Antonio Barbosa in Federal District Court for violating her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Lopez attorney Paul J. Bauer explained:
"In order to protect the rights of the farmworkers, we filed a lawsuit in federal court against the ALRB board members and regional director for violating their civil rights. The farmworkers' due process rights and First Amendment rights are being trampled by a group of people that will stop at nothing to keep the votes from being counted."
Recently U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill allowed the suit to move forward.
Fresno farm workers, their families and supporters
Protest rally against the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), led by worker Silvia Lopez
Visalia Regional Office
1642 West Walnut Avenue
Visalia, CA 93277-5348
Tuesday August 26 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.