supreme court

Supreme Court Sides with Farmers in Right of Access Ruling

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a decision outlining “right of access” rules for labor unions. In a 6-3 decision, the Court upheld the rights of property owners in limiting access provisions. At issue, was a rule by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board that allowed union organizers access to farms and ranches to garner support for unionization. In the court case Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, the judges declared that the rule violated the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Right of Access

“The American Farm Bureau appreciates the U.S. Supreme Court for reaffirming private property rights, which are foundational to our nation and critical to ensuring secure and well-managed farms,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “We hope this decision sends a message to state regulators that it’s simply wrong to give outsiders access to farms, where families live and work hard to safeguard their animals and harvests.”

Other agricultural groups including the Western Growers Association and the California Fresh Fruit Association have also expressed appreciation for the Court’s decision. The rule enacted in 1975 allowed union organizers to assemble on a grower’s property for three hours a day, 120 days a year to engage employees. The ruling equated the right of access for union organizers to assemble on private property as a “per se taking.”

“Unlike a mere trespass, the regulation grants a formal entitlement to physically invade the growers’ land. Unlike a law enforcement search, no traditional background principle of property law requires the growers to admit union organizers onto their premises,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stated in the Court’s opinion. “And unlike standard health and safety inspections, the access regulation is not germane to any benefit provided to agricultural employers or any risk posed to the public.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West