Hess Collection Winery v. California Alrb, C046405.

Citation45 Cal.Rptr.3d 609,140 Cal.App.4th 1584
Decision Date05 July 2006
Docket NumberNo. C046405.,C046405.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesThe HESS COLLECTION WINERY, Petitioner, v. CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent, United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Workers Local 1096, Real Party in Interest.

Littler Mendelson, Randolph C. Roeder and Michael Hoffman, San Francisco, for Petitioner.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Manuel M. Medeiros, Solicitor General, Louis R. Mauro, Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth R. Williams, Meg Halloran and Douglas J. Woods, Deputy Attorneys General, for Respondent.

Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain, Scott A. Kronland, Jonathan Weissglass, Danielle E. Leonard, San Francisco; Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld and David Rosenfeld for Real Party in Interest.

Pacific Legal Foundation, M. David Stirling, John H. Findley and Arthur B. Mark III, Sacramento, for Western Growers Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, Ventura County Agricultural Association, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties, Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and Howard Sagaser as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioner.

Law Offices of Marcos Camacho, Marcos Camacho and Thomas Patrick Lynch for United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Real Party in Interest.

SIMS, J.

This case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of mandatory interest arbitration statutes applicable to agricultural employers. (Lab.Code, § 1164 et seq.; undesignated section references are to the Labor Code.)

After agricultural employer Hess Collection Winery (Hess) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (Union) failed to agree on the terms of an initial collective bargaining agreement, a private "mediator" determined the terms of a contract by which the parties would be bound, pursuant to section 1164 et seq. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (the Board) denied Hess's petition for review of the mediator's decision.

Hess 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 STATUTORY FRAMEWORK

In 2002 the Legislature declared, "a need exists for a mediation procedure in order to ensure a more effective collective bargaining process between agricultural employers and agricultural employees, and thereby more fully attain the purposes of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act [ALRA, § 1140 et seq.], ameliorate the working conditions and economic standing of agricultural employees, create stability in the agricultural labor force, and promote California's economic well-being by ensuring stability in its most vital industry." (Stats.2002, ch. 1145, § 1.)

To that end, the Legislature enacted section 1164 in 2002. At the time of the dispute in this case, section 1164 provided: "Declaration of failure to reach collective bargaining agreement; order for mandatory mediation and conciliation; selection of mediator; meetings; report "(a) An agricultural employer or a labor organization certified as the exclusive bargaining agent of a bargaining unit of agricultural employees may file with the board, at any time following (1) 90 days after a renewed demand to bargain by an agricultural employer or a labor organization certified prior to January 1, 2003, which meets the conditions specified in Section 1164.11 or (2) 180 days after an initial request to bargain by an agricultural employer or a labor organization certified after January 1, 2003, a declaration that the parties have failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement and a request that the board issue an order directing the parties to mandatory mediation and conciliation of their issues. `Agricultural employer,' for purposes of this chapter, means an agricultural employer, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1140.4, who has employed or engaged 25 or more agricultural employees during any calendar week in the year preceding the filing of a declaration pursuant to this subdivision.

"(b) Upon receipt of a declaration pursuant to subdivision (a), the board shall immediately issue an order directing the parties to mandatory mediation and conciliation of their issues. The board shall request from the California State Mediation and Conciliation Service a list of nine mediators who have experience in labor mediation. The California State Mediation and Conciliation Service may include names chosen from its own mediators, or from a list of names supplied by the American Arbitration Association or the Federal Mediation Service. The parties shall select a mediator from the list within seven days of receipt of the list. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, they shall strike names from the list until a mediator is chosen by process of elimination. If a party refuses to participate in selecting a mediator, the other party may choose a mediator from the list. The costs of mediation and conciliation shall be borne equally by the parties.

"(c) Upon appointment, the mediator shall immediately schedule meetings at a time and location reasonably accessible to the parties. Mediation shall proceed for a period of 30 days. Upon expiration of the 30-day period, if the parties do not resolve the issues to their mutual satisfaction, the mediator shall certify that the mediation process has been exhausted. Upon mutual agreement of the parties, the mediator may extend the mediation period for an additional 30 days.

"(d) Within 21 days, the mediator shall file a report with the board that resolves all of the issues between the parties and establishes the final terms of a collective bargaining agreement, including all issues subject to mediation and all issues resolved by the parties prior to the certification of the exhaustion of the mediation process. With respect to any issues in dispute between the parties, the report shall include the basis for the mediator's determination. The mediator's determination shall be supported by the record." (Added by Stats. 2002, ch. 1145, § 2; amended by Stats. 2002, ch. 1146, § 1.)

Proponents of the legislation asserted it was necessary because, after unions were certified to represent agricultural workers, the employers refused to agree to the terms of collective bargaining agreements. (Off. of Assem. Floor Analyses, 3d reading analysis of Sen. Bill No. 1156 (2001-2002 Reg. Sess.) Aug. 30, 2002, p. 7; Off. of Assem. Floor Analyses, conc. in Sen. amendments of Assem. Bill No. 2596 (2001-2002 Reg. Sess.) Aug. 31, 2002, p. 7.)

A regulation adopted by the Board to implement section 1164 sets forth factors the mediator may consider, including comparison with collective bargaining agreements of similar agricultural operations. (Cal.Code Regs., tit. 8, § 20407 (regulation 20407).)1 This regulation (operative May 7, 2003) was in effect at the time the mediator and the Board acted in this case. The list of factors was also added in a statutory amendment that added subdivision (e) to section 1164 but that did not become effective until after the mediator and the Board acted in this case. (Stats. 2003, ch. 870, § 1; see Cal. Const., art. IV, § 8 [effective date of new statutes as January 1 following 90 days after enactment].)2

Within seven days of the mediator's report, either party can petition the Board for review. (§ 1164.3, subd. (a).) The grounds for review are (1) a provision of the agreement is unrelated to wages, hours, or other conditions of employment, (2) a provision of the agreement is based upon clearly erroneous findings of material fact, or (3) a provision of the agreement is arbitrary or capricious in light of the mediator's findings of fact. (Ibid.) If the Board determines that a prima facie ground for review is shown it may grant review. (Ibid.)

If, upon review, the Board finds one of the grounds for review has been established, then it orders the mediator to modify the terms of the agreement. (§ 1164.3, subd. (c).) The mediator meets with the parties for 30 more days and then files another report. (Ibid.) The parties have the right to seek review of the second report. (§ 1164.3, subd. (d).) If, upon review of the second report, the Board again finds the report defective, then it determines the issues and issues a final order. (Ibid.)

The parties also have the right to seek Board review of the mediator's report on the grounds that (1) the report was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means, (2) there was corruption in the mediator, or (3) the rights of the petitioning party were substantially prejudiced by misconduct of the mediator. (§ 1164.3, subd. (e).) Upon such a showing the Board vacates the report, orders the appointment of a new mediator, and the mediation begins anew. (Ibid.)

After Board review, either party may petition the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court for a writ of review. (§ 1164.5, subd. (a).) Judicial review extends no further than to determine whether (1) the Board acted without, or in excess of, its powers or jurisdiction, (2) the Board did not proceed in the manner required by law, (3) the order or decision of the Board was procured by fraud or was an abuse of discretion, (4) the order or decision violates a constitutional right of the petitioner. (§ 1164.5, subd. (b).)

THE HISTORY OF THIS DISPUTE

Hess grows grapes and produces wine in the Napa area. After the Union was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of Hess's agricultural employees, Hess and the Union began negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. Between 1999 and 2003, Hess and the Union engaged in...

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