Alert: Access Under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act

By: Michael C. Saqui and Rob Roy VCAA

Access is provided under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act with regulation allowing for limited time, place, and manner access by union organizers as set forth in the ACCESS CHEAT SHEET here.

  • What to do when UFW enters your fields and takes access under the guise of a COVID related compliance issue?

If the UFW attempts to take access for the stated purpose of vaccinations (as they have advertised along with other social justice groups this week), a Grower or FLC may bar such access as It clearly has no organizational purpose.

  • Another Wrinkle: Social Justice and Government Outreach Teams: ALERT CENTRAL COAST.

You may expect representatives of the Labor Commissioner’s Office and the ALRB, including the possibility of CLRA, MICOP, CAUSE, and Lideres Campesinas representatives, attempting to take access to your agricultural properties. The timing is perfect for them!

Under the California Labor Code, in the absence of employer consent, an administrative subpoena or a search warrant, neither Cal/OSHA (DOSH) nor the ALRB may enter your private property operation. The UFW may enter your operation only if they have filed and served a “Notice of Intent to take Access” with the ALRB. Private non-governmental organization (NGOs) like the CRLA, CAUSE, MICOP, and Lideres Campesinas do not have any access rights. The above rules apply notwithstanding the statement of Julie Su that the state organizations will be starting a four-day mobile caravan to remind farmworkers of their right to paid sick leave and freedom from retaliation for exercising their rights.

According to this Twitter statement here, Cal/OSHA and ALRB will be in the fields of Ventura and Santa Barbara to reach farmworkers. Ms. Su, the secretary of Labor, also made the following statement on Twitter: “Thanks to our partners at Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Central Cost Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CASUE), California Rural Legal Assistance (CLRA) and Lideres Campesinas in this effort.”

    • Enforce COVID Protocols and specifically have a plan for uninvited guests.
    • Enforce IIPP for High Hazard Production Operations
    • Enforce Food Safety
    • Document all unlawful entries to property

Click here to view the UNWANTED GUESTS CHEAT SHEET.

  • Employee Housing

Another wrinkle concerns the H-2A Housing units or housing In general: Growers and H-2ALC’s operating labor camps should be ready with a plan and put in place reasonable restrictions for visitors and access to the housing units. The law relative to employee housing on Access.

Provided under the ALRA regulation is a bit murky. However it is clear that where the living situation is not akin to one’s own home or apartment, and where exercise by one tenant of “control” over his or her “home life” by Inviting visitors into the communal bunkhouse will inevitably Impinge on the right of others In the group living situation to exercise control over their “home life,” reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions may, where appropriate, exclude visitors from a communal bunkhouse.

Indeed, a grower/labor camp operator charged with the duty to maintain order in its group housing facilities must of necessity make reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on visitation. On top of all of this we are still under COVID protocols, so barring or limiting access should absolutely be planned for as part of operating housing units. Also remember that zero access to quarantine housing should also be implemented.

Disclaimer: The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should neither be interpreted as, nor construed as legal advice or opinion. The reader should consult with The Saqui Law Group at (916) 782-8555 or for individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation.

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