Farm workers and supporters rally outside of courthouse to defend voting rights

June 19, 2024 /

Edited on 6/21 to reflect a correction. Wonderful Nurseries filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Labor Relations Board.

On Wednesday, June 12, 2024, Kern County Superior Court was the main location for a rally with farmworkers and local labor unions to support the law allowing farmers to vote on labor issues using an offsite card check system. 

This law is Assembly Bill 2183 Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act, and it empowered Kern farmworkers to gather and choose the United Farm Workers Union to represent them in any labor negotiations. Wasco farming corporation Wonderful Nurseries has filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB) for implementing this new law. 

A women waving a United Farm Workers flag in front of the Kern County Superior Court, June 12. (Haley Duval/Kern Sol News)

Armando Elenes, Secretary for the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), helped organize this rally and several protests regarding farmers’ right to vote. 

“This law is brand new, we barely just won it in 2022 and it’s barely starting to be implemented. The growers are seeing that the workers are responding, and starting to organize. As always, you know, whenever there’s a development there’s going to be an attack. So this is the biggest attack on the law where they’re literally trying to declare it unconstitutional and strip away farmworkers’ right to vote in the privacy of their home,” stated Elenes. 

In 2022 organizers met in Delano and marched 335 miles to the state capital in Sacramento to support AB 2183. Farmers and supporters stated fear holds many back from joining union representation since under the old law it was required to do all voting on the work site. Having a card check system law would ease fears about voting. More information about the march can be found on

Those who vote for a union like the UFW can benefit from a more secure way of negotiating wage increases, and representation that will hold employers accountable for necessary improvements to the workplace. For the current president’s remarks about the positive impacts unions make and his support for AB 2183 go to

Wonderful employees in counter protest outside the Kern County Superior Court, June 12. (Haley Duval/Kern Sol News)

“I grew up working in the fields, my family and both parents worked in the fields. For me it’s always an important occasion to come out and fight for farmworker rights because in particular, my family were the kind that were oppressed and marginalized and mistreated in the fields,” stated Jose Villagran, a California State University Bakersfield professor. 

Villagran also told Kern Sol that his father died of cancer that his doctors claimed was a result of handling pesticides for a long period of time. 

Gabriel Leal, a local farmworker, was in attendance for the 2022 march to the capitol and also attended Wednesday’s rally in support of the UFW. 

“I work on the farms picking grapes and other similar jobs, it means a lot for us to be here supporting this law. And these companies don’t want to give benefits to their workers who put out all their product,” Leal said in his native language Spanish. “I want the right to vote, I want the law to stand and be maintained. We want the best benefits and the best pay and to continue to be supported.”

Across from UFW supporters in the same parking lot during the rally were Wonderful employees who claimed they were lured into signing up for a union, and would rather not be a part of one.

A United Farm Workers supporter outside the Kern County Superior Court, June 12. (Haley Duval/Kern Sol News)

“We were told we were there for $600 bucks and that’s what we were going to get assistance- not to sign up for the union,” claimed Irma Rubio, an employee with Wonderful for eight years. 

Rubio added that coworkers fear that the new union representation could lead to the company’s future downfall. “You hear of a lot of places shutting down after the union gets in there- what is that going to leave us.”

Kern Sol reporter Jose Gaspar recently wrote an update regarding the 148 workers who claim they were not aware they were signing up for UFW representation. 

Documents from the courthouse about the Wonderful lawsuit state that the corporation and UFW filed unfair labor practice charges that were aimed at each other. In the Defendant’s Response in Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction, it claims that the  Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) does not have jurisdiction to grant the farming company the ability to cease the card check system for voting. It reaffirms that the ALRA states that unionizing and engaging in collective bargaining is a declared right.

United Farm Workers and supporters rallying together for the protection of farm working voting rights in front of the Kern County Superior Courthouse, June 12. (Haley Duval/Kern Sol News)

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