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Cedar Point Nursery v. Gould

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 29, 2016

CEDAR POINT NURSERY and FOWLER PACKING CO., Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM B. GOULD IV, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. 11]

          Lawrence J. O'Neill UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company ("Plaintiffs") allege that Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 20900(e) (the "Access Regulation"), a regulation promulgated by California's Agricultural Labor Relations Board ("ALRB" or "the State") allowing union organizers access to worksites for limited periods of time, is unconstitutional as applied to them. Plaintiffs argue that the Access Regulation allows third parties to take their property without providing just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and permits an unlawful seizure of their property rights, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

         II. THE ACCESS REGULATION

         In 1975, California enacted the Agricultural Labor Relations Act ("ALRA"). Cal. Lab. Code § 1140. The A.L.R.A created the A.L.R.B and vested its members with authority to make rules to carry out this policy. Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1141, 1144. The A.L.R.B promulgated the Access Regulation in recognition that workers' abilities to exercise their organizational rights "depend[] in some measure on the ability of employees to learn the advantages and disadvantages of organization from others." Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 20900(b). The Access Regulation provides that "the rights of employees under [California] Labor Code Section 1152" include "the right of access by union organizers to the premises of an agricultural employer for the purpose of meeting and talking with employees and soliciting their support." Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 20900(e). This right is subject to several constraints. For example, a labor organization must provide notice to the A.L.R.B and the employer of its intent to appear onsite. § 20900(e)(1)(B). No organization may appear for more than four thirty-day periods in any calendar year. § 20900(e)(1)(A)-(B). Organizers may enter an employer's property "for a total period of one hour before the start of work and one hour after the completion of work" and for "a single period not to exceed one hour during the working day for the purpose of meeting and talking with employees during their lunch period." § 20900(e)(3). Access is limited to a certain number of organizers (depending on the number of employees) and organizers are not allowed to engage in "conduct disruptive of the employer's property or agricultural operations, including injury to crops or machinery or interference with the process of boarding buses." § 20900(e)(4). Organizers who violate these provisions may be barred from accessing employers' properties for organizing purposes. § 20900(e)(5).

         III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Cedar Point Nursery ("Cedar Point") is located in Dorris, California. Compl. for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ("Compl."), Doc. 1, ¶ 8. Cedar Point employs more than 400 seasonal employees, who are housed off-site. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Cedar Point alleges that United Farm Workers ("UFW") members entered their property at 5:00 A.M. on October 29, 2015, "without any prior notice of intent to access the property" and "disrupted work by moving through the trim sheds with bullhorns, distracting and intimidating workers." Id. ¶ 30. Sometime after this event, UFW served notice of their intent to take access. Id. ¶ 32. Cedar Point lodged a complaint against the UFW with the A.L.R.B regarding UFW's failure to provide notice prior to the October 29 incident. Id. ¶ 34. The UFW has also filed a charge with the A.L.R.B against Cedar Point, alleging that Cedar Point has committed unfair labor practices. Id.

         Plaintiff Fowler Packing Company ("Fowler") is a California corporation, headquartered in Fresno, California. Id. ¶ 9. Fowler describes itself as "one of the largest shippers in the fresh produce business." Id. Fowler's employees do not live on their property. Id. ¶ 37. The UFW brought charges before the A.L.R.B against Fowler, based on alleged violations of the Access Regulation, in July 2015. Id. ¶ 38. It withdrew these charges in January 2016. Id. ¶ 39. Fowler alleges that, "[a]bsent the challenged regulation, Fowler would oppose union access and exercise its right to exclude trespassers from its property." Id.¶ 40.

         Both companies allege they "have reason to believe that the access regulation will be applied against them in the future" and "the only proper and possible remedy . . . is declaratory and injunctive relief." Id. ¶ 57. They state that the Access Regulation should not apply to them because "such access is unnecessary given the alternative means of communication available [to union organizers]." Id. ¶ 64.

         IV. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiffs filed their complaint against individual members of the A.L.R.B on February 10, 2016. Compl. at 11. Plaintiffs argue that the Access Regulation amounts to both a "taking" in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, and an unlawful seizure of their private property in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Id. ¶¶ 58, 64. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment stating that the Access Regulation is unconstitutional as applied to them and an order enjoining the A.L.R.B from enforcing the regulation against them. Id. at 10:16-19.

         On February 16, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin the A.L.R.B from enforcing the Access Regulation on their properties. On April 18, 2016, the Court denied their motion as to their Fifth Amendment claims and requested supplemental briefing on their Fourth Amendment claims. Mem. Decision and Order ("April 18 Order"), Doc. 13. On May 26, 2016 the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion in its entirety. Mem. Decision and Order ("May 26 Order"), Doc. 19.

         Now pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Defs.' Not. Of Mot. and Mot. to Dismiss ("MTD"), Doc. 11. Plaintiffs and Defendants filed their opposition and reply in a timely manner. Pls.' Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Opposition"); Defs.' Reply in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss ("Reply"), Doc. 17. The Court vacated the hearing set for the matter pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). Doc. 18.

         V. STANDA ...


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