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Role Questioned

June 08, 1986

The debate over attempts by the United Farm Workers Union to defund the Agriculture Labor Relations Board has furthered the false notion that the UFW is synonymous with farm workers and the sole source of their protection.

The UFW is only one of seven agricultural unions in California, the only state with an effective labor law protecting farm workers.

In reports submitted to the AFL-CIO, the UFW has reported only 12,000 farm workers as members.

Meanwhile, the six other agricultural unions combined represent more than 19,000 workers, and the Christian Labor Assn. alone, according to the ALRB, has 60 more contracts than the UFW in California.

The UFW makes much of bad faith bargaining practices by the state's farmers, yet records kept by the ALRB since 1975 do not indicate that at all.

While the UFW only succeeded in negotiating contracts in 43% of their certifications, five other agricultural unions have a 100% negotiating record, while one other has an 80% success record.

In the table grape industry alone, the UFW claims that there are 20,000 workers who have voted for the union who can not get contracts.

Wrong again. The ALRB records show that since 1975 less than 8,000 grape workers voted for the UFW.

Times labor columnist Harry Bernstein's commentary ("UFW, Growers Reverse Tactics on ALRB," April 30) ignores a vast amount of relevant data, and creates the false appearance that the UFW, which represents less than 7% of California's farm workers, holds a monopoly on their welfare.

ADAM ORTEGA

Grape Workers & Farmers Coalition

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