The Supreme Court struck down a California regulation Wednesday that allowed union organizers to access agricultural farm workers on private property, ruling that it violated the 5th and 14th Amendments.
In clash between private property rights and pro-union interests, the Supreme Court invalidates a California regulation that requires agricultural employers to allow union organizers onto their property to speak with workers. SCOTUS says the regulation violates the 5th Amendment.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 23, 2021
The state Agricultural Labor Relations Act granted collective-bargaining rights to farmworkers who were not included in union-organizing protection under the National Labor Relations Act.
The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board granted union organizers blanket authorization to meet with workers on employer property during nonwork hours.
The court ruled that the regulation violated growers’ private property rights.
“The Founders recognized that the protection of private property is indispensable to the promotion of individual freedom,” the court’s opinion read.
“This Court agrees, having noted that protection of property rights is ‘necessary to preserve freedom’ and ’empowers persons to shape and to plan their own destiny in a world where governments are always eager to do so for them.'”
The regulation was put in place after Cesar Chavez’s farmworker movement that argued in the 1970s that farmworkers were hard to reach outside of the fields, according to the WSJ.
Chavez said the regulation was essential for farmworkers to organize while growers challenged the regulation as a violation of private property rights.
The California Supreme Court upheld the regulation and the Supreme Court declined to take an appeal in 1976.
Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Co. have fought the regulation and argued that it represents the pre-digital era.
The growers said in their renewed challenge that unions can organize through means such as social media, text messages and other encounters off-site.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that “the access regulation is not germane to any benefit provided to agricultural employers or any risk posed on the public.”
“The access regulation grants labor organizations a right to invade the growers’ property. It therefore constitutes a per se physical taking,” he wrote.
The Supreme Court has shown itself to recently be more skeptical of labor rights and has ruled in favor of protecting private property.
Conservative members of the court have said private property rights are under threat from overreaching regulations intended to protect environmental, recreational and labor interests.
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