The United Farm Workers union agreed late Monday to pay more than $105,000 in back wages to Oxnard strawberry pickers who said they were illegally fired three years ago because they refused to join the union.
The money, paid to settle unfair labor practice charges filed with the state's Agricultural Labor Relations Board, will go to about 105 workers who lost their jobs after refusing to pay union dues as a condition of employment at Coastal Berry Co., the nation's largest strawberry grower.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 30, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
UFW dues -- An article in some editions of Wednesday's California section misrepresented the use of United Farm Workers union dues, implying that none of the dues go to cover representational costs such as collective bargaining and contract administration. All of the dues go to that purpose.
The settlement comes after attorneys with the farm labor board, at the behest of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued a complaint last year alleging that the UFW did not tell workers they could object to paying full dues after the union had won the right to represent more than 700 employees in Ventura County.
Foundation attorneys argued that workers had the right, as outlined in U.S. Supreme Court decisions, to pay only that portion of union dues that covers representational costs, such as collective bargaining and contract administration.
"These employees so disdained the notion of joining and supporting the UFW union that they decided they would rather lose their jobs," said Stefan Gleason, vice president for the Virginia-based foundation, which seeks to end compulsory union membership. "It's an outrage that the union would attempt to drive dissenting workers into financial ruin."
UFW spokesman Marc Grossman said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, maintaining that the union complied with all provisions of California's Agricultural Labor Relations Act in negotiating and enforcing its contract.
The union brokered the settlement in recognition that the case could have made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which showed support for the foundation's position, he said.