ALRB Mediation Outcome Now in Front of Fresno Appeals Court
Attorneys representing Gerawan Farming, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and various media organizations all presented arguments in front of the 5th District Court of Appeals recently regarding a case that could potentially change whether or not the closed labor mediation process will remain private. Following the presentation of arguments, the three judge panel recessed. They are expected to bring a decision in the upcoming weeks regarding the case.
This case was prompted following California’s refusal to allow Lupe Garcia, a Gerawan employee, to attend a mandatory mediation hearing in 2013. Gerawan is one of California’s largest fruit tree growers. At the time, the company and the United Farm Workers union were attempting to negotiate an employee contract through mediation. Garcia requested he be able to attend the meeting and was told it was closed to the public; something that his attorneys argued was a violation of his First Amendment rights.
Members of the media became involved in the dispute and at the recent hearing, argued that since mediation is similar to a bench trial it should be open to the public and that those affected by the outcome should be able to know what is happening during the process.
Garcia’s attorneys claim he wanted to be present for the mediation because the outcome affects his seniority, his pay, and his working conditions. The deputy attorney general stated it is general practice to keep these types of mediation confidential and that attendance has never been considered a right. The decision of the justices will likely affect the confidentiality of future mediations of this type.