Law Offices of Louis Spitters

California farm labor law in limbo: part two

Last week we discussed some past and recent changes to California's farm labor laws. We also touched on some of the unique challenges that agricultural employees face, which include widespread employer misconduct, unpredictable factors like weather and resources, and a long history of reliance on immigrant labor.

Two years ago California's farm labor laws were overhauled with the objective of cracking down on employer misconduct and providing for mediation when farm labor unions fail to negotiate contracts. Now a California lawmaker wants to expand that legislation to force mediation in instances where a contract expires and a successor contract is not in place.

However, concerns have arisen about the United Farm Workers union's use of mediation to secure contracts on unionization elections that occurred years ago. The union is locked in disputes with some companies who believe they should not be bound by elections that happened 20-plus years ago, involving employees who no longer work there.

There are no statutes of limitations on union elections so technically decisions made in the past are still legal and binding. Any lawmakers who pass new laws regarding mediation and elections may choose to address that issue.

If you have faced unfair treatment in the workplace - whether in the form of employee discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour violations or another employment dispute - the result can have a lasting impact on your career. It may be wise to meet with an experienced employment law attorney who can work with you to understand your situation, recommend the best course of action and help you protect your interests - and your career.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "California farm labor law still a hot issue," Dan Walters, Jan. 8, 2013

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