A High Price for Freedom: Transforming Farm Owners’ Employment Rights into Due Process Protection
By Ali Huda, Juris Doctor
28 San Joaquin Agric. L. Rev. 20 (2019)
San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review
亚洲免费无码中文在线&free欧美高清猪马牛&青青草手机在线免费看In 1975, California enacted the Agriculture Labor Relations Act (“ALRA”) to protect the collective bargaining rights of agricultural farmworkers, largely as a compensable measure in connection with certain shortcomings of National Labor Relations Act. The ALRA enabled farmworkers to unionize and bargain collectively for better wages, hours, and benefits without fear of employer retaliation. But in the decades to follow, numerous elected unions and farm owners failed to execute and certify collective bargaining agreements and the contract formation process became indefinitely stalled.
To compel the creation of collective bargaining agreements, California amended the ALRA in 2002 to include the landmark Contract Dispute Resolution Act (“CDRA”) provisions, creating a method to bargain even if a negotiation impasse threatened to stall the process. The CDRA provided bargaining parties at impasse could elect an arbitrator to resolve the dispute. This is the subject of recent dispute in Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (2018) 139 S. Ct. 60, cert denied (U.S. Oct. 1, 2018) (No 17-1375).
Gerawan Farms, Inc. (“Gerawan”) levied a substantive due process challenge against the CDRA provisions, particularly California Labor Code sections 1164 to 1164.13. After losing at the trial level, petitioner Gerawan Farming, Inc. appealed their case to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which reversed the trial court’s decision and held that the CDRA provisions violated of Gerawan’s constitutional rights. Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. ALRB (2015)187 Cal.Rptr.3d 261, reversed by Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. ALRB (2017)3 Cal. 5th 1118. In reversing the Fifth District Court of Appeals and affirming the trial court decision, the California Supreme Court held that the CDRA provisions were constitutionally valid because no constitutional violation had occurred. Namely, the California Supreme Court held that no fundamental right of employer’s freedom of contract exists within the domain of labor relations. Although the United States Supreme Court denied Gerawan’s petition for review on October 1, 2018, Gerawan’s substantive due process challenge could upend modern labor laws if similar cases arise before the United States Supreme Court’s case docket in the future.
This article assesses whether an employer’s “liberty of contract” fundamental right warrants protection under the Due Process Clause. If so, it is necessary to assess the extent to which protection of that fundamental right would invalidate pre-existing labor laws beyond the ALRA and restrict future union-centric labor legislation designed to protect farmworkers.