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LABOR PANEL REJECTS UFW'S CHALLENGE OF VOTE ON UNION.

Byline: David Greenberg Daily News Staff Writer

The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board has ruled that the union representing strawberry pickers in Oxnard and Watsonville cannot legally challenge a vote to form a company union.

The 4-1 vote is a setback to the United Farm Workers of America, which is still waiting for a ruling on its allegations that Watsonville, Calif.-based Coastal Berry Farms failed to notify 162 Oxnard pickers of the July 23 vote and used threats to dissuade other workers from joining the UFW.

``The ruling was that only parties to the election can file objections,'' said Joe Wender, a lawyer for the labor board. ``They would be the employer, the labor organization that petitions for the election and any labor organization which intervenes in order to get on the ballot.''

Although the UFW challenged the election, it was deemed not to be part of the process because it failed to petition the labor board to become an alternate choice on the ballot, he said.

In order to get on the ballot, the UFW would have had to garner a 20 percent show of support from Coastal Berry Farms workers, Wender said.

In Watsonville, 523 pickers voted for the in-house Coastal Berry Farmworkers Committee union, 410 voted not to join a union and 39 cast ballots that were nullified because it was not clear if they were eligible to vote.

Marc Grossman, UFW spokesman, downplayed the significance of the ruling.

``It's a procedural ruling that doesn't address the substantive issues the UFW has raised,'' he said. ``There are still plenty of ways the (board) can throw out the election.''

The labor board's general counsel is still investigating the UFW's allegations of threats and other unfair labor practices.

If the general counsel decides to issue a complaint on those charges, then the board will hold a hearing.

If Coastal Berry Farms is ultimately found guilty, the election could still be nullified, Wender said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 29, 1998
Words:325
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