This is a guest op-ed and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of RedState front page writers or editorial staff. ~ Ed.
Recently, Pick Justice Action, an organization advocating on behalf of farmworkers, launched a six-figure ad buy highlighting the record of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher across TV, radio, and digital platforms. I was surprised to read about the ads because I’ve also seen national media outlets across the country hail Gonzalez-Fletcher as a steadfast champion for workers. But as is often the case with politicians, their record does not always match their rhetoric.
The Pick Justice Action ads largely focus on Gonzalez-Fletcher’s opposition to a package of bills introduced last year by California Assemblyman Jim Patterson that would have provided farmworkers with more rights, had she and other Democrats not opposed the bills.
Despite Gonzalez-Fletcher being the leader on the farmworker overtime bill, which made her appear as a strong pro-farmworker legislator, she opposed Rep. Patterson’s bills because of her alliance with the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. These bills would have made it so that if a union abandoned a farm for over three years, it would be considered an “unfair labor practice,” which would require the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) to decertify the union – which explains why the UFW vehemently opposed the bill.
Ironically, these bills would have given farmworkers some of the same rights that staff at the ALRB currently enjoy, yet Gonzalez-Fletcher stood against workers and by the side of the UFW and ALRB.
In addition, despite Gonzalez-Fletcher being a vocal opponent of forcing contracts on workers, even introducing legislation the past two years that would ban arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, she opposed a Patterson bill that would give workers the right to ratify a contract before it could be imposed on workers. By opposing this bill, she sent a message that she supports forced contracts on farmworkers without them having a say in the matter – even if it lowers the workers’ take home pay.
The Pick Justice Action ads also focus on how Gonzalez-Fletcher supported the UFW and ALRB throughout the Gerawan Farming incident.
In October 2012, after disappearing from the farm for over 20 years, the UFW insisted that a two-decade old collective bargaining agreement covering Gerawan workers be reactivated and tried to impose a non-negotiated, government-written contract on the company’s farmworkers that would have deducted three percent of the 5,000 Gerawan employees’ pay—without their consent.
When the farmworkers got organized and held a vote to decertify the union, the ALRB spent $10.8 million in tax dollars to prevent the workers’ decertification election votes from being counted. And it would be five years until the results of the vote were announced.
After a state appellate court ruled that the votes should be counted, and the state Supreme Court declined to take the case, the votes were counted and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of decertifying the union. Throughout this process, Gonzalez-Fletcher never wavered in her support for the UFW and ALRB, in opposition to the farmworkers.
In their release, Pick Justice Action spokesperson Jesse Rojas summed up the ad buy campaign by stating: “Our efforts will provide transparency about Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher’s record of hypocrisy, lack of support for farm workers, and will serve as a warning to other members of the legislature that hard-working immigrant workers will not settle for all talk and no action.”
It is refreshing to see a grassroots organization fighting to highlight the record of politicians who say one thing and do the opposite. As voters, it is critical that we choose our leaders wisely, and organizations like Pick Justice Action are helping to shed light on the truth and therefore helping Californians make a more educated decision. Hopefully, other politicians will take note that just saying you support workers is not enough, and if you vote against workers’ rights, you too might have your record exposed.
Elvira Moreno is the former Mayor of Maywood, California, and past president of the North Orange County Republicans