Sacramento – Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) today made a blistering speech on the Senate Floor in opposition to the confirmation of Genevieve Shiroma as a member of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and issued the following statement:
There are three points against Shiroma’s confirmation:
- Shiroma’s blatant conflict of interest;
- the ALRB’s dismal performance under Shiroma’s tenure; and
- the ALRB’s failed mission to assist farmworkers under Shiroma’s leadership.
On the blatant conflict of interest:
Ms. Shiroma has a longtime business relationship with a lobbyist and consultant for the UFW. She was asked to recuse herself from the ongoing case involving farmworkers at Gerawin Farms wanting to decertify the UFW. At her confirmation hearing, Ms. Shiroma not only refused to recuse herself, but actually cast the deciding vote on the board declaring that she didn't have a conflict of interest. Talk about your Kangaroo courts.
On the ALRB’s dismal performance:
Ms. Shiroma has been on the ALRB for 17 years, including multiple years as chair. The state Department of Finance did a five year audit of the ALRB and found money being wasted, lack of organization and employee dysfunction. Ms. Shiroma had no real answers to these questions other than "following practices set by previous boards." Furthermore, there are less and less cases coming before the ALRB but yet their budget has doubled in the last five years – where’s the money going? Unfortunately we now know 40 percent has been going to persecute Sylvia Lopez and farmworkers at Gerawin Farms. Ms. Shiroma bears much of the responsibility for the ALRB mess as the longest-tenured member of the ALRB.
On the ALRB’s failed its mission to assist farmworkers:
The ALRB is charged with assisting farmworkers who want elections to decide which union they want or if they don't want union representation at all. The farmworkers at Gerawin have repeatedly voted to not have union representation. Unfortunately the ALRB has turned its back on farmworkers and now sees its number one job as being a shill for the UFW. Additionally, two years ago this legislature voted to bail-out the UFW’s failed health care program with $3.2 million – how many other unions have we done that with? Ms. Shiroma and the ALRB have looked for every technical reason not to count the farmworkers' votes – basically disenfranchising the votes of thousands of primarily Latino and Latina workers.
The ALRB, in the eyes of thousands of my constituents, has become corrupt and is not helping the people at the bottom of the political chain, as was the original intent. I have frequently worked side-by-side with farmworkers throughout my life. It is a tough job, a hard job, a back-breaking job. They have earned the right to determine their own destiny, not to be treated like children who do not know what’s best for them.
A relevant quote from the late Cesar Chavez:
“From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength... I’m not going to ask for anything unless the workers want it, they’ll ask for it.”
The farmworkers have repeatedly asked to not have union representation. How many times should they have to tell the ALRB/UFW no?
Ms. Shiroma should not have been confirmed.
The Senate confirmed Governor Brown’s reappointment of Shiroma to the ALRB on a party line vote of 26 -11.