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Cal Ag interest arbitration is constitutional
July 05, 2006 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

When a California agricultural employer and a union fail to agree on a collective bargaining agreement, they are required to engage in interest arbitration to write a contract.

After an arbitrator [actually improperly called a mediator] wrote a contract for The Hess Collection Winery and United Food and Commercial Workers, the employer tried to get out of it. A petition to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (resulting in a decision in favor of the union) was followed by a court challenge.

The California Court of Appeal ruled for the union. It was 2-1. Hess Collection Winery v. California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (California Ct App 07/05/2006).

The court said:

"Hess [the employer] seeks an order setting aside the Board’s decision. Hess contends the statutory scheme (§ 1164 et seq.) violates principles of due process in that it unreasonably interferes with the right of contract, denies the right of judicial review, and is aimed at protectionism. Hess also contends that the scheme violates equal protection, invalidly delegates legislative authority, and is vague and overbroad."
"We shall conclude Hess’s contentions are without merit."

The dissent argued that the statute delegated legislative power unconstitutionally, and violated the equal protection guarantees of both the state and federal constitutions.

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