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Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board

Filed 11/27/17 (this opn. precedes companion case S227270 also filed 11/27/17) IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA GERAWAN FARMING, INC., ) ) S227243 Petitioner, ) ) Ct.App. 5 F068526/F068676 v. ) ) AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS ) BOARD, ) ) Respondent; ) ) UNITED FARM WORKERS OF ) AMERICA, ) ) Real Party in Interest. ) ) In 1975, the Legislature enacted the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) “to encourage and protect the right of agricultural employees to full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment, and to be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor.” (Lab. Code, § 1140.2; all statutory references are to this code unless otherwise specified.) The ALRA established an elaborate framework governing the right of agricultural workers to organize themselves into unions to engage in collective bargaining with their employers. (Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. v. Superior Court (1976) 16 Cal.3d 392, 398 (ALRB I); see § 1140 et seq.) It also created the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB or the Board) and granted it “specific powers and responsibilities of administration, particularly in conducting and 1 certifying elections and in investigating and preventing unfair labor practices.” (ALRB I, at p. 399.) Twenty-five years later, the Legislature determined that additional legislation was necessary to fulfill the goals of the ALRA because it had proven ineffective at facilitating the negotiation and completion of collective bargaining agreements. The Legislature therefore enacted the ALRA’s “mandatory mediation and conciliation” (MMC) provisions to “ensure a more effective collective bargaining process between agricultural employers and agricultural employees.” (Stats. 2002, ch. 1145, § 1, p. 7401.) In certain cases in which an employer and a labor union have failed to reach a first contract, either party may invoke MMC, which involves a mediation process before a neutral mediator. (§ 1164 et seq. (the MMC statute).) If the parties do not reach an agreement on all terms through mediation, the mediator resolves the disputed terms and submits a proposed contract to the Board, which can then impose that contract on the parties. In this case, the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) filed an MMC request with the Board after failing to reach a collective bargaining agreement with petitioner Gerawan Farming, Inc. (Gerawan). When mediation similarly failed to produce an agreement, the mediator submitted a report fixing the contractual terms, which the Board adopted in its final order. Gerawan petitioned for review of the Board’s order, contending, among other things, that the MMC statutory scheme was unconstitutional. The Court of Appeal agreed, holding that “the MMC statute on its face violates equal protection principles” and that it “improperly delegated legislative authority.” In so holding, the Court of Appeal adopted the reasoning of the dissent in Hess Collection Winery v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1584, 1611 (dis. opn. of Nicholson, J.) (Hess), in which the court upheld the MMC statute against a similar constitutional challenge (see …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court