Controversial ad campaign from a major Valley farming company causes tension

FRESNO, Calif.

The new television ad aims to strike down a bill headed to the senate. But critics say the ad misleads viewers at the expense of their employees.

The TV ad is currently running in Sacramento and is funded by the large Ag company Gerawan Farming. A spokesperson for the company says the ads put the rights of farm workers first but critics say the company is actually exploiting them.

The ad is currently running in Sacramento and attacks State Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's Senate Bill 25.

"They pretend that a farm worker with a very thick Latino/Mexican accent is speaking up and claiming that he is a farm worker and this bill hurts farm workers, people need to know the truth," Stienberg said.

Steinberg believes his bill allows farm workers to push for higher wages, health benefits and safer working conditions through a union contract. But Gerawan farming, who paid for the ads, said big unions such as UFW are imposing their will on workers' rights.

"My objection to Senate Bill 25 is it doesn't give the employees the right to choose. It takes away their right to decide whether or not they want to be a part of a union," Dan Gerawan from Gerawan Farming said.

Gerawn said the majority of his workers don't want representation from United Farm Workers of America. He says his company is already an industry leader which pays higher than others.

Action News asked Gerwan about the ad campaign and Steinberg's allegations that the narrator who is posing as a Hispanic farm worker is misleading viewers.

"I have no thoughts about the sound of the narrator, ask them what they think. My bigger concern is that the workers don't have a choice," Gerwan said.

A complaint filed by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board found Gerawan's supervisor's coerced farm workers into signing a petition to remove UFW as their union rep. That complaint will be presented in a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Gerawan said he disputes those unfair labor practices. The bill has already passed in the state senate. It is now up for a vote in the assembly over the next four weeks.

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