Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. v. Superior Court

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation16 Cal.3d 392,128 Cal.Rptr. 183,546 P.2d 687
Decision Date04 March 1976
Docket NumberS.F. 23349
Parties, 546 P.2d 687, 91 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2657, 78 Lab.Cas. P 53,800 AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD et al., Petitioners, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF TULARE COUNTY et al., Respondents; PANDOL & SONS et al., Real Parties in Interest.

Page 183

128 Cal.Rptr. 183
16 Cal.3d 392, 546 P.2d 687, 91 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2657,
78 Lab.Cas. P 53,800
PANDOL & SONS et al., Real Parties in Interest.
S.F. 23349.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
March 4, 1976.
As Modified March 31, 1976.

[16 Cal.3d 397]

Page 186

[546 P.2d 690] Walter L. Kintz, Jerrold C. Schaefer, Byron S. Georgiou, Salinas, Ruth Friedman, Woodland Hills, Ronald Greenberg, Maurice Jourdane, Ellen Lake, San Francisco, Alberto Saldamando, Pacoima, and Gustin L. Reichbach, San Francisco, for petitioners.

Dennis M. Perluss, Sacramento, Mark D. Rosenbaum, Beverly Hills, Fred Okrand, Daniel C. Lavery, Jill Jakes and Mary Ellen Gale, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of petitioners.

No appearance for respondents.

Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson, Joseph Herman, Michael J. Machan, Los Angeles, Thomas, Snell, Jamison, Russell, Williamson & Asperger, Jay V. Jory, Fresno, Littler, Mendelson & Fastiff, J. Richard Thesing, George J. [16 Cal.3d 398] Tichy, II, Jordan L. Bloom, Nancy L. Ober and Gary P. Scholick, San Francisco, for real parties in interest.

Jay W. Powell, Dist. Atty., Tulare, as amicus curiae.

MOSK, Justice.

The state Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) petitions for an original writ of mandate to compel respondent Superior Courts of Tulare and Fresno Counties to vacate various orders enjoining enforcement of an administrative regulation which permits qualified access to agricultural property by farm labor organizers. We have concluded that the regulation is valid and the board is entitled to the relief requested.

On August 28, 1975, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) (Lab.Code, § 1140 et seq.) went into effect. The preamble to the act recites in part that 'In enacting this legislation the people of the State of California seek to ensure peace in the agricultural fields by guaranteeing justice

Page 187

[546 P.2d 691] for all agricultural workers and stability in labor relations. ( ) This enactment is intended to bring certainty and a sense of fair play to a presently unstable and potentially volatile condition in the state.' (Stats.1975, Third Ex.Sess., ch. 1, § 1, No. 3 West's Cal.Legis.Service, p. 304.)

To achieve this goal, the act declares the right of agricultural employees to organize themselves into unions and to engage in collective bargaining, free from intimidation by either employers or union representatives. Thus new section 1140.2 of the Labor Code states 'the policy of the State of California' to be 'to encourage and protect the right of agricultural employees to full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment, and to be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. For this purpose this part [16 Cal.3d 399] (i.e., the ALRA) is adopted to provide for collective-bargaining rights for agricultural employees.' 1

Remaining provisions of the act implement this legislative intent in two principal ways. First, chapter 4 characterizes a variety of acts by employers or unions as unfair labor practices. In particular, it is declared to be an unfair labor practice for employers to interfere in any way with the goal of self-organization by farm workers, to favor any union over another, to discriminate against any worker for asserting his rights under the statute, or to refuse to bargain in good faith with the certified representative union. (Lab.Code, § 1153.) 2

Secondly, chapter 5 sets forth elaborate provisions for elections by secret ballot to determine the representative union for collective bargaining purposes. 'Recognizing that agriculture is a seasonal occupation for a majority of agricultural employees' (§ 1156.4), the act authorizes such elections only during peak harvest seasons. An election will be held when a union obtains the signatures of the majority of the workers on a ranch; if a second union obtains the signatures of 20 percent of the same work force, it will also be placed on the ballot. The ballots are printed in English, Spanish, and any other language requested. Once authorized, an election is quickly held: within 48 hours in case of a strike, and within 7 days in other cases. Within five days thereafter any person may challenge the propriety of the election or its results. (§ 1156.3.)

Article 1 of chapter 2 creates the ALRB and prescribes its method of operation. Article 2 vests the board with broad investigatory powers, and makes it a criminal offense to interfere in the performance of the board's duties. Numerous provisions throughout the remainder of the act grant the board specific powers and responsibilities of administration, particularly in conducting and certifying elections and in investigating and preventing unfair labor practices. On the latter subject chapter 6 begins by declaring (§ 1160) that 'The board is empowered . . . to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice' defined in the act, and succeeding sections authorize the board to use a variety of methods [16 Cal.3d 400] to achieve that end: administrative complaint (§ 1160.2) cease and desist order (§ 1160.3), temporary restraining

Page 188

[546 P.2d 692] order (§ 1160.4), injunctive relief (§ 1160.6), and enforcement orders from both the superior courts and the Courts of Appeal § 1160.8).

In addition to its adjudicatory and executive powers, the board is vested with express legislative authority: section 1144 delegates to the board the power to make, amend, and repeal 'such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions' of the ALRA.

The board promptly adopted emergency regulations for the operation of the act. (Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 8, pt. II, § 20100 et seq.) Among those provisions is the regulation here in issue, which grants a qualified right of access to growers' premises by farm labor organizers. (Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 8, pt. II, ch. 9, §§ 20900--20901, pp. 1051--1053.) 3 Under the terms of the regulation the right of access is specifically limited in purpose, in time and place, and in the number of organizers permitted to participate; and conduct is forbidden, other than speech, which is 'disruptive of the employer's property or agricultural operations, including injury to crops or machinery.' 4

[16 Cal.3d 401] Two groups of growers, real parties in interest herein, filed actions in the Fresno and Tulare Superior Courts attacking the validity of the regulation and seeking to prevent its enforcement. The Fresno Superior Court held a hearing on the matter and on the same day issued a peremptory writ of mandate ordering the board to vacate the regulation, together with a declaratory judgment that the regulation is invalid on both constitutional and statutory grounds. At the same time the Tulare Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the board from enforcing the regulation, and set a hearing on an order to show cause why an injunction to that effect should not be issued. Upon application and appropriate showing by the board, we stayed the effect of the respective superior court rulings pending final determination of this proceeding for writ of mandate.

Page 189

546 P.2d 693


The remedy is proper. The challenged rulings of respondent courts are primarily injunctive in effect. The codes, embodying a settled principle of equity jurisprudence, prohibit the granting of injunctive relief 'To prevent the execution of a public statute by officers of the law for the public benefit.' (Code Civ.Proc., § 526, 2nd subd. 4; Civ.Code, § 3423, subd. Fourth.) That rule is here applicable, inasmuch as a regulation adopted by a state administrative agency pursuant to a delegation of rulemaking authority by the Legislature has the force and effect of a statute. (Zumwalt v. Trustees of Cal. State Colleges (1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 665, 675, 109 Cal.Rptr. 344; Alta-Dena Dairy v. County of San Diego (1969) 271 Cal.App.2d 66, 75, 76 Cal.Rptr. 510; Rigley v. Board of Retirement (1968) 260 Cal.App.2d 445, 450, 67 Cal.Rptr. 185, and cases cited.) It is true the rule prohibiting such an injunction does not operate when the statute which is stayed is unconstitutional or otherwise invalid. (Conover v. Hall (1974) 11 Cal.3d 842, 850, 114 Cal.Rptr. 642, 523 P.2d 682.) As will appear, however, we have concluded that the access regulation is valid. Under the codes, therefore, respondent courts had no jurisdiction except to deny the real parties' request to enjoin enforcement of the regulation. (City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (1959) 51 Cal.2d 423, 430, 333 P.2d 745, and cases cited.)

When a court's discretion can legally be exercised in only one way, mandate will lie to compel that exercise if there is no adequate [16 Cal.3d 402] remedy at law. (Babb v. Superior Court (1970) 3 Cal.3d 841, 851, 92 Cal.Rptr. 179, 479 P.2d 379.) The absence of an adequate remedy at law was determined herein when we issued the alternative writ. (Ibid.) Accordingly, mandate is an appropriate remedy to compel respondent courts to vacate their orders invalidating and enjoining enforcement of the access regulation. (People v. Superior Court (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 276, 282, 56 Cal.Rptr. 393.) And we exercise our original jurisdiction to grant that remedy (Cal.Const., art. VI, § 10) because we find that in the circumstances of this case "the issues presented are of great public importance and must be resolved promptly." (Clean Air Constituency v. California State Air Resources Bd. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 801, 808, 114 Cal.Rptr. 577, 580, 523 P.2d 617, 620; quoting from County of...

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