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Governor Brown

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Fact Sheet - English

Q: WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT?

A: All agricultural employees in California, whether or not they are represented by a labor organization (union), have certain rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA or Act). The purpose of the Act is to "ensure peace in the agricultural fields by guaranteeing justice for all agricultural workers and stability in labor relations." The ALRA became law in 1975. The Act describes and protects the rights of agricultural employees to make their own decisions about whether or not they want a union to negotiate with their employer about their wages, hours, and other working conditions. Where the employees, through a secret ballot election, have selected a union to represent them, the Act requires that the employer bargain in good faith with the union concerning wages, hours, and other working conditions. Additionally, even if no union is present, two or more workers may act together to ask their employer to change their wages, hours or other terms and conditions of their employment without fear of discharge or retaliation.

The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to fire, refuse to rehire, or discriminate in any other manner against an employee because he or she has supported a union, has participated in union activities, or has exercised any of the other rights protected by the Act.

Effective January 1, 2003, the Act provides for mandatory mediation in selected circumstances where the parties have been unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement.

Q: WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD AND THE GENERAL COUNSEL?

A: The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is the state agency established to enforce the Act. The members of the Board are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the California State Senate. The Board interprets and enforces the Act by deciding the rights of parties to labor disputes. The General Counsel, who is also appointed by the Governor, is independent of the Board and has exclusive authority to investigate unfair labor practice charges and to determine if a complaint should issue. If a complaint issues, the General Counsel's staff presents the case before an administrative law judge, whose decision may be appealed to the Board.

Q: WHO ARE THE CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS AND THE GENERAL COUNSEL?

A: The Board Chairwoman is Genevieve A. Shiroma. The other members are Cathryn Rivera-Hernandez and Isadore Hall III, Ph.D. There are currently two vacancies. The General Counsel is Julia Montgomery.

Q: WHAT KINDS OF MATTERS DOES THE BOARD HANDLE?

A: The ALRB conducts elections where employees may choose or reject union representation. The Board also remedies unfair labor practices and, in that capacity, functions like a court.

The Board does not decide matters concerning worker's compensation, health and safety, unlawful race, sex, or age discrimination, safe housing, or violations of state or federal wage laws (minimum wage, overtime). Other state and federal agencies enforce the laws in those areas.

Q: WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND MEDIATION LAW?

A:On September 30, 2002, Governor Davis signed two companion bills, SB 1156 and AB 2596, that amended the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, effective January 1, 2003, to provide for binding mediation in selected circumstances where the parties have been unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The law was amended by SB 75, effective January 1, 2004, to delete a sunset provision, add nonexclusive standards to be followed by the mediator, and expand the grounds for review of the mediator's report. The law was amended again by SB 126, effective January¬†1, 2012. Those amendments 1) Reduced from 180 to 90 days the period that must elapse after an initial request to bargain before a request for mediation may be requested, where the labor organization was certified after January 1, 2003, and 2) Expanded the circumstances when a union or employer may invoke the mediation process to include those denoted as ‚Äú(C)‚ÄĚ and ‚Äú(D)‚ÄĚ below.

As amended, the mandatory mediation and conciliation provisions provide as follows:

The mediation provisions apply only if the employer has employed 25 or more agricultural employees during any calendar week in the year preceding the filing of the request for mediation. If the certification of the union occurred after January 1, 2003, the mediation process may be triggered where:

(A) 90 days have elapsed from the initial demand to bargain following certification.

(B) If the certification occurred prior to January 1, 2003, 90 days after a renewed demand to bargain, and where the following conditions are met:

  1. The parties have failed to reach agreement for at least one year after the union made its initial demand to bargain;
  2. The employer has committed an unfair labor practice; and
  3. The parties have not previously had a binding contract between them.

(C) 60 days after the Board certifies a labor organization after setting aside an election due to employer interference where the misconduct renders slight the chances of a new election reflecting the free and fair choice of employees.

(D) 60 days after a decertification petition has been dismissed due to a finding that the employer has unlawfully initiated, supported, sponsored, or assisted in the filing of a decertification petition.

Once a mediator is selected in accordance with the process set forth in the legislation and implementing regulations, the mediation will continue for 30 days, with an option for an extension of 30 days if mutually agreed by the parties. If this process does not result in resolution of all issues to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, the mediator will certify that the process has been exhausted. Thereafter, the mediator will have 21 days to file a report that establishes the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. The law further provides for Board review of the mediator's report and appellate court review of the Board's decisions.

Links to the full text of the legislation can be found at Mandatory Mediation.

Q: WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL EMPLOYEE RELIEF FUND?

A: The Agricultural Employee Relief Fund was established by a law that went into effect on January 1, 2002. If the Board is unable to locate an employee on whose behalf the Board has collected money (such as back wages) after 2 years, then the money collected on the employee's behalf is deposited in the fund. The money deposited in the fund is then used to pay other employees the unpaid balance of any monetary relief the Board has ordered when the Board finds that it is impossible to collect the money from the employer.

Q: WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ALRB?

A: For additional information such as Board decisions and orders, Board meeting minutes, and regulations, go to the Meetings tab.

Q: IS THERE A TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE NUMBER TO CONTACT A BOARD AGENT?

A: Yes. The toll-free number is (800) 449-3699. Calling this toll-free telephone number will connect you with a Board agent in the appropriate regional office.

Q: HOW DO I CONTACT THE BOARD FOR MORE INFORMATION?

A: You can contact the Board through the Office of the Executive Secretary at the headquarters office in Sacramento:

Executive Secretary and Calendaring/Administrative Law Judge Unit

Executive Secretary/ALJ Unit - Santiago Avila-Gomez
Email: Santiago.Avila-Gomez@alrb.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 653-3741
Phone: CALNET 8-453-3741
Room: 398B

A: You can also contact a regional office near you or the General Counsel's office in Sacramento to obtain information concerning the rights and responsibilities of farmworkers and agricultural employers under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act:

Regional Offices

Visalia Regional Office
1642 West Walnut Avenue
Visalia, CA 93277-5348
Phone: (559) 627-0995
Fax: (559) 627-0985
Directions to Office
Salinas Regional Office
342 Pajaro Street
Salinas, CA 93901-3423
Phone: (831) 769-8031
Fax: (831) 769-8039
Directions to Office
Santa Rosa Subregional Office
606 Healdsburg Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-5124
Phone: (831) 229-3723
Fax: (831) 769-8039
Directions to Office
Oxnard Subregional Office
1901 N. Rice Avenue, Suite 200
Oxnard, CA 93030-7912
Phone: (805) 988-3850
Fax: (805) 973-1251
Directions to Office

General Counsel

General Counsel Julia Montgomery
Agricultural Labor Relations Board
1325 J Street, Suite 1900
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2690
Toll Free: (800) 449-3699
Fax: (916) 653-8750
Directions to Office