A worker at the Fowler Packing Co. places bags of oranges into boxes to be sent to stores in this 2017 file photo.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
One of Fresno County’s largest ag production companies is having its case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court concerning private property rights.
Last Friday, it was announced that Fowler Packing Co. and Cedar Point Nursery in Siskiyou County would be going to the highest court in America as part of a lawsuit against the United Farm Workers union in regards to protests that were held on their premises.
According to Pacific Legal Foundation senior attorney Joshua Thompson, who is representing the two businesses, the suit originated five years ago when UFW attempted to enter the grounds of Fowler Packing to protest and recruit its 2,500 employees.
The company refused the union’s access, according to the Pacific Legal Foundation. A California Agricultural Labor Relations Board access regulation allows union activists onto the property of agricultural employers. The lawsuit states the regulation violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
“The statute gave these activists — or union organizers — the right to enter their property irrespective of whether they wanted them there or not,” Thompson said.
The case was dismissed by the California Eastern District court in 2016 and the dismissal was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court. The Supreme Court, however, announced that it would hear Fowler and Cedar Point’s case. According to Thompson, Pacific Legal is representing both companies pro bono.
Efforts to reach the UFW for comment were unsuccessful.