From HMBReview.com, Half Moon Bay Review, “Hearing set for Nurserymen’s Exchange labor dispute” by Lily Bixler, 31 Mar 2011.
The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board has dismissed four objections Nurserymen’s Exchange filed following last year’s union vote at the wholesale grower to decide whether the company’s workers would be represented by United Farm Workers of America. The labor board is scheduled to hear five more company-filed objections on May 19 and 20.
The decision follows a revised tally issued in January that indicated 90 of the unresolved ballots, once opened, came from individuals who support United Farm Workers labor representation. Sixty-four others rejected union representation and 13 ballots remain unresolved.
The labor dispute began last summer when Nurserymen’s Exchange laid off 135 of its more than 300 employees after citing financial hardship associated with the recession and a changing market for wholesale flowers. After the staff cuts, Salinas-based United Farm Workers began organizing workers. In early August, the union held a vote that resulted in 107 of 168 ballots being sealed because they were in dispute. Of the 61 open ballots, 58 voted for no union representation in that initial vote.
For the next several months a legal battle ensued over which votes should be counted. The labor board was charged with making the determination and, in January, opened all but 13 of the ballots to indicate most of those workers wanted union representation.
With the final tally of ballots issued, attention shifted to the nine objections to the election filed by the company. On Feb. 7, the labor board issued an order setting five of the objections for hearing and dismissing the remaining four.
The five objections the labor board representative set for hearing relate to whether the election petition was filed at a time when the company’s employment level was at least half of its yearly peak.
The company then filed a request that the labor board review the decision again, requesting that two of its dismissed objections be set for hearing. The labor board denied the request for reconsideration. The union also filed a request that the board reverse its decision to set for hearing five of Nurserymen’s objections. The board denied this request as well.