Visalia, Calif. (November 1, 2004) – The General Counsel of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has issued a formal complaint against the United Farm Workers (UFW) union for misrepresenting workers’ freedom of association rights across the state. The complaint stems from unfair labor practice charges brought by a pair of PictSweet Mushroom Farms workers earlier this year alleging that UFW officials unlawfully collected full union dues from their paychecks and threatened dissenting workers with a loss of health benefits. Obtaining free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Guillermo Virgen and Gerardo Mendoza filed the class-action unfair labor practice charges on behalf of roughly 300 workers employed by PictSweet. Aside from unlawful dues seizures and threats, the ALRB will also pursue classwide relief against the UFW hierarchy for failing to inform thousands of laborers statewide that they have the right to certain procedural protections to assure that their forced union dues do not finance activities unrelated to collective bargaining. The complaint is the second in a year involving the UFW union, following the ALRB’s issuing of a complaint in December 2003 against the UFW union for unlawfully ordering the mass firings of more than 150 Oxnard-area Coastal Berry employees who refused to pay full union dues in 2000. “The UFW union hierarchy wants workers simply to shut up and pay up,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “This union hierarchy’s repeated refusal to respect workers’ freedom shows a clear disdain for the people that they claim to represent and for the rule of law.” Virgen and Mendoza allege that UFW union officials intentionally misled workers by stating that all workers in the bargaining unit were required to pay full union dues as a condition of employment. UFW union officials also unlawfully failed to inform employees of their rights to object to paying for non-collective bargaining activities (such as union electoral politics), and the right to challenge the union’s fee calculations before an impartial decision- maker. Union officials also demanded that workers sign dues check-off cards authorizing the automatic deduction of full union dues from their paychecks to keep their jobs. UFW officials then threatened workers with a loss of benefits if they failed to pay full dues and sign payroll deduction authorization cards. The actions of UFW union officials not only violated the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, but also unlawfully infringed on constitutional rights recognized in several Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decisions.