Farmers Win Access Case 06/23 14:43
California Farmers Win Property Rights Case Over Union Organizer Access
The Supreme Court ruling overturns a regulation in California law that
granted the United Farm Workers union access to a farm property for three hours
a day for up to 120 days a year.
DTN Ag Policy Editor
California farmers do not have to allow union organizers on their property
unless state officials provide compensation for the temporary "physical taking"
of property, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The 6-3 ruling overturns a regulation in California law that granted the
United Farm Workers union access to a farm property for three hours a day for
up to 120 days a year. The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John
Roberts stated, "The access regulation grants labor organizations a right to
invade the growers' property. It therefore constitutes a per se physical
The case is Cedar Point Nursery v Hassid. It began in 2015 when Cedar Point
Nursery, a strawberry farm in northern California with about 400 season
employees and 100 full-time workers, charged that union organizers were showing
up at the farm early in the morning, using bullhorns and disturbing the farm
operations. Fowler Packing Co., a grower and shipper of grapes and other fruits
in Fresno, Calif., employees up to 2,500 field worker sand 500 in its packing
facility. Fowler also had refused to let union organizers on its property,
leading to the union to initially file an unfair labor charge against Fowler
Both Cedar Point and Fowler sued in federal court against the California
Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and its members, including the board chair,
Victoria Hassid to challenge the state regulation that goes back to 1975.
The decision reversed a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and
remanded the case back to the district court to implement the Supreme Court
California officials had argued the regulation only allowed limited and
intermittent access for a narrow purpose. Roberts cited the language of the
rule that grans labor unions a "right to take access" of a grower's property to
solicit union members. Roberts stated that allowing union organizers on the
farm for up to three hours a day, for 120 days "to invade the growers'
premises" takes away the rights of the growers to exclude the union organizers
from their property.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the physical taking
argument because the access is temporary. Roberts wrote, "That position is
unsupportable as a matter of precedent and common sense." Roberts cited that
the High Court has held in the past that a taking of property can be permanent
or temporary. Precedents have established that "compensation is mandated when a
leasehold is taken and the government occupies property for its own purposes,
even though that use is temporary."
In their dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor
stated that by concluding that access for union organizers is a taking, then
that could translate into every government inspection or entrance onto property
as a physical taking. The California provision is a regulation and not an
appropriation, the three dissenters wrote.
Roberts dismissed the dissent, stating that permits and other regulatory
tools would give government officials access to property when needed.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh also wrote a separate concurrent opinion agreeing
with the majority.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents landowners in property-rights
cases, had represented the two growers in the case. The group said Wednesday's
ruling affirmed that the government cannot force people to allow third parties
onto their property.
"Today's ruling is a huge victory for property rights," said Pacific Legal
Foundation senior attorney Joshua Thompson, who argued the case before the
Supreme Court. "Today's decision affirms that one of the most fundamental
aspects of property is the right to decide who can and can't access your
property. Pacific Legal Foundation is proud to have represented Cedar Point
Nursery and Fowler Packing Company at the Supreme Court."
United Farm Workers did not immediately issue a comment on the ruling
TO see more on the Supreme Court decision, Cedar Point Nursery v Hassid, go
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN
(c) Copyright 2021 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.
Get your local Cash Bids emailed to you each morning from DTN – click here
to sign up for DTN Snapshot.