Officials silent on whistleblower’s allegations of “false statements” in union, farm dispute

The California agency in charge of defending farmworkers has declined to comment on a whistleblower’s allegation of insider wrongdoing, citing an ongoing internal investigation.

The whistleblower alleged earlier this year that the agency’s office of General Counsel made misleading and false statements to persuade agency board members to sue Gerawan Farming, a San Joaquin Valley company that employs 5,000 and is regarded as the nation’s largest peach grower. The state Agricultural Labor Relations Board has been trying for more than two years to throw out a vote by Gerawan farmworkers on whether to fire the United Farm Workers as their collective bargaining representative.

The whistleblower said that “false statements, inaccuracies and vague information had been written into” a board document prepared by the general counsel, according to a staff memo presented to the board in May as members were considering whether to file a temporary restraining order against Gerawan.

“The ALRB employee stated that the (general counsel’s) declaration is vague and misleading and that there were statements made in the declaration that were untrue,” the memo says. “The ALRB employee stated that the Board would be making a decision on this (temporary restraining order) packet and they needed to know false statements were being made in the declaration.”

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