Mandatory Mediation And Conciliation Is A Curio.
The reason I post on this case is I thought it a curiosity, for those of use who do not practice in the area of union negotiations, that the California Labor Code, sections 1164 et seq., enables a process of “mandatory mediation and conciliation” (MMC) between a union, such as the United Farm Workers (UFW), and an agricultural employer, that is a binding process, in which the “mediator” takes evidence, hears arguments from the parties, and submits a “report” to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. This is a rather specialized application of the term “mediator”!
Above: Interview with Cesar Chavez. April 20, 1979. Library of Congress.
In Gerawan Farming, Inc. [Appellant] v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board et al. [Respondents] & Garcia [Intervener] v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board et al. [Respondents], No. F069896/F070287 (5th Dist. May 9, 2016) (Kane, Hill, Levy) (certified for partial publication), Garcia, an employee of Gerawan, requested the Board’s permission to attend and observe the MMC process between Gerawan and the UFW. The Board rejected Garcia’s request, and Gerawan and Garcia, as intervener, sought declaratory relief in the superior court. Here’s the rub: Labor Code section 1164.9 limits all judicial review of the Board’s ruling to the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. Therefore, the the superior court sustained the Board’s demurrers to Gerawan’s and Garcia’s complaint seeking a declaration that the Board’s no right of public access ruling violated the federal and state Constitutions.
Held: Section 1164.9 is unconstitutional, because it divests the Superior Court of its original jurisdiction, even though there is no “other constitutional provision that would expressly or impliedly grant to the Legislature the power to divest the superior court of its original jurisdiction in such matters.”
Removing the obstacle of section 1164.9 is not the end of the matter. Instead, the Court remands to the trial court so the Board will have an opportunity to assert procedural and other defenses, and to more fully develop the record. Having corrected legal error committed in the trial court, the Court of Appeal’s work is done – for now.