Get Off My Property!
Before dawn, dozens of union activists invaded a strawberry farm, shouting through bullhorns. This frightened workers and infuriated the farm's owner, Mike Fahner, who thought that in America, owning property means you have a right to control access to that property -- your home is your castle, and all that.
Not in California, where politicians allow union organizers to raid farms.
"If I didn't allow them, I'm the one going to jail," says an outraged Fahner in my new video. "That is asinine."
The property invasion law's supporters say the United Farm Workers union deserves the exception to property rules because rich farmers abuse migrant workers.
I threw their argument at Fahner, who replied that it's absurd to say he abuses workers, because they keep coming back: "450 people travel 400 miles. ... Why in the world, if they were being abused, would they continue to return year after year?"
Because they don't know they have other options, says the union. They also don't know about their right to unionize, so unions must come onto farms to tell them about union benefits.
The union's predawn farm invasion didn't win over many of Fahner's employees. Fewer than 10% joined the union. Fahner already pays almost double California's minimum wage.
But the protests themselves impose a cost. He only has six weeks to harvest, pack, ship and process his strawberry plants. "If we miss that window, you destroy the fields."
In response to the farmers' complaints, California Deputy Attorney General Matthew Wise claimed, "Any access to the property is brief, unobtrusive..."
But the law allows union organizers to enter a farm three hours a day, up to 120 days a year. That's hardly "brief" or "unobtrusive."