The California Ag Labor Relations Board (ALRB) staff is seeking an additional $833,000 for their budget and members of the agricultural community are asking why. Citrus Mutual joined Western Growers, Farm Bureau, California Fresh Fruit Association, Ventura County Ag Association and Grower-Shipper Association in Salinas on a letter to the chair of the State Senate Budget Sub-Committee poking holes in their alleged justification. ALRB was seeking more permanent positions even though their workload was less, according to their own stats with the exception of the Gerawan fiasco. More people for fewer hearings doesn’t make economic sense the groups argued. The Board expects 125 cases to be filed this year when only 46 were filed in the last half of 2018 and only five in the first half of the fiscal year.
The Board cited a massive increase in legal interpretations using data from the previous two years but ignoring that the majority of this time was spent on the aforementioned Gerawan case. Do they have a complicated case such as that filed? The answer is no. Two hearing officers required $593,000 for officers and support staff. Field staff “expansion” required another $240,000 budget augmentation all the while a work load history review doesn’t support the perception that existing staff is working long hours and weekends. We’ll be following this one through the budget process.