C A L I F O R N I A R U R A L L E G A L A S S I S TA N C E , I N C .
I WWW. CRL A . ORG THIS NEWSLETTER IS MADE POSSIBLE BY A GRANT FROM UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA FALL 2007
WAT S O N V I L L E , C A • J A N U A RY 1 7 , 2 0 0 7
MINIMUM WAGE LAWSUITS SETTLED
By Amanda Schoenberg
A lawsuit filed by California Rural Legal
Assistance against MayWay Wash and Dry
over charges the Watsonville business paid
an employee less than the minimum wage was set-
tled Thursday for $16,000.
“It was a great outcome
because it was a worker
who stood up for her rights
Under the settlement reached through mediation by
Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Robert Atack, and was able to obtain
MayWay Wash and Dry and owner Walid Sublaban
will pay $16,000 to plaintiff Dolores Angeles. If the justice in the end.”
business does not pay within 90 days, the amount
will increase to $22,000, according to CRLA staff per week for 44 hours of work, which adds up to CRLA often sees cases involving local workers who
attorney Luis Alejo. $3.86 an hour. When Angeles requested more do not confront employers about labor practices,
money, Alejo charges that her wage was increased to Alejo said.
The settlement is not an admission of liability by the
$200 a week, but her hours were increased to 53
employer or the worker. Owners of the East Lake “One of the biggest cases is when workers are afraid
Avenue business also agreed to abide by state wage per week.
to assert their rights or don’t know who to turn to,”
laws in the future, Alejo said. In the lawsuit, the When Angeles worked at MayWay, state minimum
business was accused of not paying overtime wages he said.
wage was set at $6.75 an hour.
or providing breaks and failing to maintain payroll After the settlement, Angeles, 57, who arrived in
records and provide itemized wage statements to Sublaban’s attorney, John Hannon II, said the facts
Watsonville from Michoacan, Mexico, five years
employees. remained in dispute, despite Thursday’s settlement.
ago, said she was satisfied with the outcome.
According to Alejo, the case has already affected “We never agreed that those facts were true,” he said. Before working at MayWay, she said she was not
workers. He said owners have hired a payroll “While we’re not exactly thrilled, the decision is aware of minimum wage or break requirements.
agency and workers are paid with itemized wage probably correct because they were asking for She was not sure where to go for help when she
statements, instead of cash, and have lunch and was fired from her job, but co-workers asked her
$42,000 and they got a whole lot less,” Hannon
rest breaks. to speak out, she said.
said. “My client made an economic decision.”
“It was a great outcome because it was a worker who “It is great that this was settled now,” Angeles said.
According to Alejo, business owners can risk stiff
stood up for her rights and was able to obtain jus- “I hope businesses don’t keep taking advantage of
fines for not providing wage statements or providing
tice in the end,” Alejo said. us. We are poor, humble people.”
back salary to employees. In addition to civil penal-
According to Alejo, Angeles worked at the laundry ties, employers can face criminal charges for not
for two and a half years, where she was paid $170 paying taxes on wages.
The Desert Sun Despite her July 20 due date, the 44-year-old farm-
worker continues to stoop in a valley vineyard to
put food on her table.
PA L M S P R I N G S , C A • J U N E 2 2 , 2 0 0 7 “Bills, they don’t pay themselves,” explained her 18-
year-old son, Sergio Dominguez.
FARMWORKERS FACING EVICTIONS She met the news Thursday with relief, and tears.
By Nicole C. Brambila Carbajal is one of six farmworker families – out of
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were told to put work because of freezing temperatures in
O n the very day the Coachella Valley Housing
Coalition celebrated placing 39 families into
homes of their own, the nonprofit organiza-
tion nearly put a family of 10 on the streets.
a lock on Edith Carbajal’s mobile home in Mecca
on Thursday, before the housing agency reversed its
decision to evict her family for missing a $265 rent
November and December – that faced eviction
from the Paseo De Los Heros Mobile Home Park
They all participate in a county program designed in
The reprieve Thursday afternoon followed a story 2002 to move families out of unsafe housing.
posted on thedesertsun.com. An attorney representing three of the families called
Eight-months pregnant and single with nine chil- the eviction unfair.
dren, Carbajal had already moved plastic garbage “What makes this case so difficult is they failed to
sacks of clothing into her sister’s mobile home pay rent on time for one month when there was an
Thursday afternoon. emergency, a disaster,” said Arturo Rodriguez, an
attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance in
“The families are losing their mobile homes.”
continued on page 2
41 Y E A R S O F L E G A L J U S T I C E P
A G E
Appeal-Democrat he said. “It’s difficult to feel effective in repre-
senting my clients without thinking and
addressing some of the more systemic and deep
M A RY S V I L L E , C A • O C T O B E R 2 9 , 2 0 0 6 social and economic problems.”
Yuba and Sutter counties “are among the poorest
PUBLIC INTEREST IS HIS THING counties in the state,” Pliscou said.
By Harold Kruger It’s a tough job, he said, but “now that I’m married
and have kids, I’m not burned out anymore.
I have something important to do besides work.
Lee Pliscou says he became a lawyer because his The kind of work I do, there was nothing I had in
father told him he should. life as important as that. It’s easy to spend too
“My dad was right about so many things, I fig- much time doing work. Now I know the kids are
ured he might be right about this as well – plus waiting for me at home, so I go home and I'm not
I didn't have a better plan,” said Pliscou, now burned out.”
directing attorney of the California Rural Legal
Assistance office in Marysville. “My dad was not Harold Kruger is a veteran reporter and copy editor for
a lawyer. We grew up in a small community in the Appeal-Democrat. His column, “Off Beat,” appears
Imperial County, and my dad, without any par- Sundays. He can be reached at 749-4717, or via e-mail
ticular skills or training, became a gadfly.” at email@example.com
Pliscou, who was raised in El Centro, said his
father would write letters to the editor of the SPECIAL THANKS
local newspaper and became “a bit if a local
celebrity. I don’t know that he had any particular
agenda that he followed, but he certainly had a Photo by John Hollis
TO THE LAW FIRM OF
heart for the underdog.”
“It wasn’t until HOWARD RICE
Pliscou's father “had no particular status in the
community, other than he was right about a lot I practiced law NEMEROVSKI ET AL
of things,” his son said, and was “pretty much a
that I knew what
Pliscou, 49, didn’t go straight into public-interest was going on
law out of law school. behind the scenes.” Marty Glick
He said he had “zero interest” in becoming a cor-
Californians, including migrant workers, annually.
“I joined the Coast Guard out of law school,” he It has 22 offices throughout the state. California Bernard Burk
said. “That’s helping people, pulling drowning Rural Legal Assistance gets much of its funding
people out of the water. That's my idea of help- from the federal Legal Services Corporation. Jennifer Rhodes
Being a lawyer allows Pliscou to peek “behind the
for providing between
After he got out of the Coast Guard, Pliscou got a facade” of a community.
call from CRLA. $500,000 - $1 million
“It wasn’t until I practiced law that I knew what in pro bono services
“Ever since that time, I’ve been, to use the analogy, was going on behind the scenes,” he said.
assisting CRLA in
pulling drowning bodies out of the water, perhaps
Yuba-Sutter is a “really unique” place because its defense during recent
not so dramatically,” he said.
“the problems that my individual clients have are governmental investigations.
Founded in the mid-1960s, CRLA, a nonprofit, connected and interrelated to so many social and
provides legal services to about 20,000 poor, rural economic factors that exist in this community,”
FARMWORKERS FACING EVICTIONS
last fall that preceded the January frost, which
continued from page 1 damaged $86 million in Riverside County crops.
Carbajal did not qualify for services with Manicured lawns dot the paved streets in Paseo De For the latter freeze, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Rural Legal Assistance and is not repre- Los Heros Mobile Home Park in Mecca where a declared a state of emergency Jan. 10, in 58 coun-
sented by Rodriguez. The three families Rodriguez barefoot child chases after an ice cream truck. ties, including Riverside.
represented in court last week received judicial It’s a very different scene from the dirt roads that More than 75 percent of Coachella Valley farm-
relief and will be permitted to pay their back rent. are littered with potholes and ramshackle mobile workers earn less than $15,000 a year, according
Two other families still face eviction. homes where many of the Paseo De Los Heros to a 2006 survey released earlier this year. Yet, it
“Each case stands on its own,” said Pedro residents once lived. generally costs nearly $1,000 a month to house a
Rodriguez, chief financial officer with the “I don’t have anything without my house,” Isabel family of four in most of the valley’s nine cities and
Coachella Valley Housing Coalition. “We’ll respect Salgado said in Spanish. unincorporated areas.
the judge’s order on those three cases.”
Salgado, whose 18-year-old college-bound son rep- Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment
Community activists formed the Coachella Valley resented the family in court earlier in the week, offered to help the families with money earmarked
Housing Coalition in 1982 to address the lack of heads back on Monday to fight her family's eviction. for disaster relief from an $80,000 California
descent farmworker housing. The nonprofit agency Endowment grant.
Fearing a sheriff’s deputy early morning knock on
has built nearly 3,000 homes and apartments for the door, Mireya Perez vacated her mobile home “I’m trying to find a good ending,” Pedro
low-income families in Riverside and Imperial along with her husband, six children and mother. Rodriguez said. “We’re in the business of providing
Counties, their Web site says.
Rodriguez is hopeful the Housing Coalition will affordable housing to people.”
Carbajal's eviction would have been the first since permit the family to return home if they, as the MOBILE HOME PROGRAM
the park opened in 2004. Instead, two of the six others, pay back rent and about $1,300 in attorney
families were evicted. The Mobile Home Tenant Assistance Loan
fees and court costs.
Program offers interest-free loans to mobile home
“This was a very difficult decision,” Pedro All the families said they fell on hard times because owners in unpermitted parks in danger of being
Rodriguez said. “We don’t normally evict people.” of 13 days of at or below freezing temperatures condemned.
A G E W W W . C R L A . O R G
Monterey County Weekly Farmers are expected to increasingly use a mix of
telone and chloropicrin as methyl bromide
becomes less available. While chloropicrin and
M O N T E R E Y, C A • J U LY 1 2 , 2 0 0 7 telone are designed to control nematodes or
roundworms, and certain soil-borne pathogens,
they are also toxic to humans.
PESTICIDES GET GREEN LIGHT Telone, also called 1,3-Dichloropropene, can cause
CALIFORNIA RURAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE ATTORNEYS irreversible eye damage. Rats exposed to the chem-
APPEAL THE DECISION TO THE STATE ical developed tumors in their lungs, liver, thyroid
and other parts of their body. Still, the EPA con-
By Zachary Stahl
cludes that even after 30 years of exposure, the
chance of humans developing cancer from telone is
still a long shot.
The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies
chloropicrin in the highest toxicity category because
it is extremely irritating to the eyes, skin and upper
respiratory tract. The latest chloropicrin poisoning
occurred in October 2005, when the pesticide drift-
ed into the Creekbridge neighborhood in Salinas
and sickened about 60 residents.
On July 3 Rodoni received the green light from the
Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner to
inject the pesticides into the soil over a three-month
period, starting July 15. Telone and chloropicrin
would be used on the 13 acres of crops directly
across the street from Moss Landing Heights. A mix-
ture of methyl bromide and chloropicrin would be
applied to the rest. The use of less methyl bromide
“These pesticides are known to affect your devel-
M arilyn Lynds-Dismukes and her neighbors and assurances by the Agricultural Commissioner
in Moss Landing thought they had it bad opment system and she is just starting to grow,” haven’t made residents feel any safer.
last year when a farmer planned to pump Lynds-Dismukes says.
Salinas’ California Rural Legal Assistance office
methyl bromide into the soil outside their homes. Across Portero Road is a plot of green lettuce has appealed the decision to the California
Methyl bromide, a fumigant used to kill parasites shoots and ag fields that stretch to the Salinas Department of Pesticide Regulation.
and weeds, has been proven to cause neurological River. Farmers have long grown artichokes and
damage and reproductive harm. But now, instead row crops on the land near Moss Landing Heights. Although the chemicals will be injected into the
of this dangerous chemical, Lynds-Dismukes and The small neighborhood protested last year when ground, this doesn’t mean that neighbors won’t be
her family could be breathing a pesticide cocktail exposed to the toxins. Residents fear they will be
of telone, a likely carcinogen, and chloropicrin, a breathing in the fumigants when they off-gas to the
tear-gas-like toxin that can cause vomiting. “While chloropicrin and atmosphere. According to the EPA, people who live
near fields injected with telone may be exposed to a
The chemicals will also be applied closer to home. telone are designed to volatized form of the substance for two weeks after
While methyl bromide can’t be applied within 300 the application.
feet of residences, the state Department of control nematodes or
Pesticide Regulation only requires a 100-foot In his decision to uphold the pesticide permit, Ag
buffer for telone and chloropicrin. This is unnerv- roundworms, and certain Commissioner Eric Lauritzen said Rodoni will fol-
ing to Lynds-Dismukes. low all state regulations to mitigate any exposure
soil-borne pathogens, they to off-gassing. Any drift that could occur during
“Nobody in this neighborhood wants to be poi- the application is very unlikely since the fumi-
soned or see their kids poisoned,” she says while are also toxic to humans.” gants will be injected at least 10 inches into the
sitting in her wheelchair with a small crowd of ground, Lauritzen says. “In evaluating proposed
neighbors on Portero Road near Highway 1. pesticide applications our most important priori-
Lynds-Dismukes has post-polio syndrome and her San Juan Berry Farm tried to plant strawberries ty is human safety, and we do not compromise on
husband is recovering from cancer. Neither of and apply methyl bromide on 26 acres close to that,” he says.
them wants to jeopardize their health further with their homes. The farm then moved its berries back
1,000 feet from the residents. Due to residents’ concerns, including 52 letters,
pesticide exposure. Plus, they have an 11-year Lauritzen extended the buffer zone by 25 feet. So
daughter, who is home schooled and likes to But now Steve Rodoni of Springfield Farms wants instead of the barrier starting at their doorsteps, it
play outside. to fumigate more than 54 of these acres to grow would start at their property lines and go 100 feet
strawberries. Rodoni selected telone and chloropi- across Portero Road to the field.
crin as an alternative to the unpopular methyl bro-
mide, which will soon be phased out due to its Mike Meuter, director of litigation, advocacy and
effects on the ozone layer. Rodoni did not return training for CRLA, says Lauritzen abused his discre-
calls seeking comment. tion by issuing the permit. Meuter says the Ag
Commissioner failed to consider impacts on the
western snowy plover and southern sea otter.
Using the road as a buffer is unacceptable, Meuter
says. “There are kids that play on that road. There
needs to be additional protection for the people
who live out there.”
CRLA has requested that the Department of
Pesticide Regulation halt any pesticide applications
until the state department has made a decision on
CRLA’s appeal. Meuter also requested a public meet-
ing to review the pesticide permit. By press time a
meeting date had not been set.
41 Y E A R S O F L E G A L J U S T I C E P
A G E
Los Angeles Times Sierra-Cascade’s human resources director, Larry
Memmott, said the company was using the visa
program for the first time and had made mistakes.
LOS ANGELES, CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2006 “We may not have provided the proper food for
them in the beginning,” he said. “We may have
IN THE FIELDS, A RUDE AWAKENING missed a meal. But we went in and corrected what
we need to correct…We’ll take our lumps and
By Lee Romney, Staff Writer
The complaining workers were “bad apples,”
F or some laborers, U.S. guest worker pro-
gram was a bitter letdown that fell short of
Tulelake, California — The ad in his hometown
“From the moment we got on
the bus in Nogales, we knew they
were feeding us lies... they gave us
Advocates with California Rural Legal Assistance,
which has filed suit on behalf of more than 50
workers, point instead to systemic problems that
newspaper was enticing, the meeting with a com-
arise when human labor becomes an importable
pany recruiter even more so. a liquid diet — pure water — commodity. Employees entirely dependent on the
For six to eight weeks of strawberry work, Ricardo for 24 hours. Those who had sponsoring company are unfamiliar with the law
Valle and his wife, Ana Luisa Salinas, would get and unlikely to complain, they say.
good pay, free transportation to and from Mexico money could eat. The rest “Unlike workers in any other part of the free mar-
with food included, three daily meals — even a lit-
ket, who have the ability to vote with their feet,
tle cabanita with a kitchenette that they would of us, we ate air.” these workers don’t,” said Mark Schacht of the
share with just one other couple.
rural legal group's foundation, which plans to
Like most of the 250 Mexicans on U.S. guest propose state legislation to strengthen worker
worker visas who arrived Sept. 22 at this lonely protections.
post near the Oregon border, Valle and Salinas did
the math: In the contract period promised, they “These guys get delivered when the employer
could make more than they would in a year and a wants. They get taken away when the employer
half in Nogales, Mexico. Valle quit his maquilado- wants, and they are subjected to a regime that has
ra job, where for a dozen years he had assembled elements of un-free labor.”
electric curtain motors. Sierra-Cascade’s seedlings are grown in Northern
As strict immigration enforcement limits the pool California and Oregon, then trimmed and shipped
of available farmhands, growers are clamoring to to warmer climates. In 2004, Memmott said, an
expand the federal guest worker program. But the immigration review indicated that 80% of the
experience of the workers, whose contract ended company’s workers were undocumented.
last week, offers a rare look at the system's poten- “Last year, we couldn’t fill our trim shed at all,”
tial pitfalls. In interviews and legal declarations, Memmott said. “We figured that this year we
dozens of workers have said they went hungry weren’t going to wait and see.”
not just on the bus north but in the weeks that
followed. Instead of the cabanitas, they got Memmott recruited in the state of Chihuahua and
crowded dorms. They were also paid less than in neighboring Sonora, which has achieved rela-
they’d been told they would be — and less than Salomon Sarita Sanchez works in a crew of strawberry tive prosperity from ranching and multinational
pickers, made up of indigenous Mixtec immigrants assembly plants known as maquiladoras.
the law required — for a shorter period than from Oaxaca.
they'd been promised. Some learned of the jobs through friends. Some
Many failed and quit. Others were fired. Soon,
“From the moment we got on the bus in Nogales, only a little over half the original workforce was saw fliers. Rigoberto Talamantes Flores and his
we knew they were feeding us lies,” Valle, 52, said left. The employer, Sierra-Cascade Nursery of wife, Alicia Punuelas Ledezma, both 42, of Nuevo
as he tended to his sick wife in a cramped dormi- Susanville, Calif., is now under investigation by Casa Grande, Chihuahua, heard a radio pitch.
tory set up in an exhibition hall on the county fair- the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the “We thought we would come, because of the illu-
grounds here. On the bus, he said, “they gave us a guest worker program. California’s Department of sion that it would alleviate some of the economic
liquid diet – pure water – for 24 hours. Those who Industrial Relations has ordered the company to pressures on us,” said Flores, who shuttered
had money could eat. The rest of us, we ate air.” correct numerous wage violations and conduct a his shoeshine shop to make the trip.
self-audit. They said they were told the pay would be $9 an
After they arrived in Tulelake, the workers said,
they found out their contract term had been cut And, responding to an emergency request by hour – the legally required rate under the program
nearly in half, to just over a month. Furthermore, attorneys for the nonprofit advocacy group – plus production bonuses. Nowhere in the solic-
they were required to trim 1,025 strawberry California Rural Legal Assistance, a federal itation, workers said, was any mention of the high
plants per hour to prepare them for later trans- judge two weeks ago ordered Sierra-Cascade to work quota. That was disclosed only in the
plantation. Without farm experience, meeting the make meals more nutritious, give workers more contracts handed out at night in Susanville, where
goal proved so grueling that they worked through living space and heat the fairgrounds’ frigid the bus dropped off 200 visa holders before taking
breaks and lunchtime. shower rooms. the Tulelake workers farther north.
A G E W W W . C R L A . O R G
HOW TO GIVE TO CRL A
Disappointments multiplied upon arrival. The site It was a Oaxacan laborer from the Central Valley
of the nation’s largest World War II Japanese who took pity on the visa holders. The worker
internment camp, Tulelake sits in a desolate vol- called an activist in Oaxaca, who in turn contact- DONATE NOW TO
canic basin of rich soil. Road signs warn motorists ed an organizer at the Fresno office of the rural law
not to run down migrating fowl, more numerous group. That organization alerted regulators and CRLA’S 41ST ANNIVERSARY
here than humans. dispatched attorneys to Tulelake. JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
“We were cramped so close together that our legs Memmott said his company is cooperating with
would knock when we put on our shoes,” Reyna the U.S. Department of Labor. In response to the AND UNION BANK
Amelia Tarango Ponce, 45, whose husband closed agency, he said, the laundry machines now oper-
OF CALIFORNIA WILL
his Chihuahua brake shop to come north, said of ate without coins and the kitchen is serving
the dormitories. healthier fare. MATCH YOUR DONATION*
At first, couples were housed with single women – Meanwhile, the state Department of Industrial
until a man was accused of a sexual assault during R e l a t i o n s ’ D i v i s i o n o f L a b o r S t a n d a rd s Each year, California Rural Legal
the night. Foreman Javier Chavez fired the Enforcement has notified Sierra-Cascade that it is
accused worker and installed wooden barriers to violating labor law by failing to pay overtime after Assistance provides more than
split the room. eight hours, to ensure rest breaks and a 30-minute 39,000 poor Californians and
lunch break, and to compensate workers for time
The eight-hour days that workers say they were
in transit and waiting to begin work. their families with no-cost legal
promised, and for which they were paid, quickly
stretched to 10 – and longer, with the bus ride to services, community outreach
the trim shed, where they stood in the cold for up and educational workshops to
to an hour waiting to begin. “These guys get delivered
improve their lives.
Breakfast at first consisted of bread and coffee; when the employer wants.
after a few weeks the food did improve when
Memmott changed cooks. Come payday, many They get taken away when Give to CRLA today!
workers were unable to cash their checks in the the employer wants, and Please use the enclosed
tiny town, whose bank is closed Saturdays and envelope to donate to CRLA.
charges $15 for the service. they are subjected to a
Your individual gift to CRLA is needed.
“We have nothing – not even enough to buy soap," regime that has elements When you contribute to CRLA,
said Valle, who, without change for the laundry
machines, spent Sundays scrubbing clothes under of un-free labor.” you take an active role in ensuring that
a cold outdoor spigot and drying them on the fair- California's poorest communities
grounds’ chain-link fence. have access to justice.
They “intend to correct the issues we’ve addressed
The gloves, aprons and boots that advocates say and pay restitution to their employees,” said Dean Your donation will directly support
are required by law – to protect workers from such Fryer of the Department of Industrial Relations. CRLA's work to:
hazards as icy plants and knife blades – were not
provided, though some workers purchased them. The pending lawsuit alleges, among other viola- N Provide farm worker families with safe
tions, that the company, through false representa- and affordable housing
Attorneys for the workers say the production tions, enticed the workers across an international
quota is unreasonable and should have been dis- border. N Fight sexual harrassment in the
closed during recruitment. Memmott says he agricultural industry
showed them a video and told them: “It’s going to Memmott attributed the problems to the pro-
be cold. It’s going to be hard work.” gram’s learning curve. Sierra-Cascade had N Advocate for immigrant civil rights
planned to provide couples the more private N Enforce the right of all children in
Many others make the grade, he said. Most are housing in nearby Newell, he added. But when
domestic hires – experienced migrants from the California to a quality education
fewer guest workers arrived than anticipated,
poorer farming states of Oaxaca and Michoacan. the company opted to save the cost and time of N Guarantee workers receive their wages
The working conditions, housing, wages and food busing them farther. for an honest day's work
are no better or worse than what they are used to,
said 28-year-old Alejandro Ramirez of Zamora, Next year, he said, the company might seek some N Promote health access and health care for
Michoacan. “Those on the contract, they were more-experienced workers farther south in low-income children and their parents
made certain promises,” he said. “But for us, it’s Mexico. Advocates, however, say they may peti-
N Help victims of domestic violence to
pretty good.” tion the U.S. Department of Labor to block Sierra-
start a new life
Cascade from using the program.
On a recent morning in the company’s trim shed,
N Protect the elderly and immigrants
18-year-old Federico Hernandez of Oaxaca moved The company has pledged to make workers
whole. Still, some damage cannot be undone, from consumer fraud
with a spasmodic rhythm, his hands twitching and
his feet dancing as he separated plants at the roots. workers said. In Mexico, where age discrimination
Working this way, he said proudly, he could trim is pervasive, Valle is certain he will never get his
maquiladora job back. We value your philanthropic and civic
1,200 plants an hour and make a decent wage.
leadership. Thank you again for giving.
But a lack of experience hampered many of the “Twelve years to quit for the American Dream,
which is now a nightmare,” he said. N Make a cash gift, or write out a check.
N Make a commemorative gift in honor of a
person or in memory of a loved one.
N Make a stock contribution (speak to
N Designate CRLA in a planned gift
(will, trust, insurance policy).
N Make a gift of real estate.
N Make a single or a multi-year $ pledge.
N Make a gift of goods and/or services.
All CRLA donors receive the Annual Report and are acknowledged by mail
and in print. Contributions to CRLA are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
CRLA is a tax-exempt corporation under Federal Internal Revenue Code
Section 501(c)(3). For further information, please contact Claire Rase at
(415) 777-2794, extension 309.
(*up to $125,000)
41 Y E A R S O F L E G A L J U S T I C E P
A G E
B A N K I N G F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S
Y ou put your life into your business, whether it’s the pro bono work • Unlimited network ATM cash withdrawals or transfers within the
you do for California Rural Legal Assistance or the income-generat- United States and free ATM mini-statements3
ing side of your practice. Union Bank of California believes you
should be rewarded for your passion. Financing Options
Obtain the funds to build your business.
Designed to reward you for your financial achievements, Signature Banking
from Union Bank of California offers you a variety of fee-free and discount- • Up to 1% off the standard interest rate on a business loan
ed products and services, including special rates on business loans. and/or line of credit6, 7
• $150 off the application fee on a business loan and/or the
Complimentary Services documentation fees on an equipment lease6
Signature Banking can help you concentrate on the financial well being of
your business. You receive benefits such as: Investment and Insurance Services
• Business checking account with no monthly service charge1 Working with a specialist from one of our subsidiaries, you can do
even more with your money and make sure your business is properly
• Signature Banking MasterCard® Debit BusinessCard3
• Pre-approved $500 Business Cash Reserve line of credit with
• Receive a UnionBanc Investment Services financial review so
no annual fee4
you can make the most of your investments.
Convenience Services • Get an insurance coverage review from a UBOC Insurance Services
• Free online banking and Bill Payment through Internet Business professional to make sure you have adequate coverage and protection.
• Ability to download transactions to Quicken®, Microsoft® Money, To learn more about Signature Banking for your business, visit
or QuickBooks® at no cost unionbank.com/signaturebusiness or call 1.888.818.6060.
Requires minimum combined balances of $100,000 or more, which can be maintained Other charges, such as Non-sufficient Available Funds and overdraft fees, will still apply.
in a combination of qualifying accounts. Two business checking accounts are free of the 6
regular monthly service charge. Other charges, such as overdraft fees, will still apply. Fee This is not a commitment to lend. Financing subject to credit and any applicable collateral
will apply for accounts closed within 90 days of opening. You may be assigned to another approval. Lease financing subject to lessee credit approval, and vendor and equipment
program or product if you no longer meet the minimum balance requirement of Priority approval. Additional terms and conditions apply, including limitations on equipment type
Banking. See our All About Business Accounts & Services Disclosure and Agreement and lease terms. Other restrictions may apply. Financing available to businesses located in
for details. California, Oregon, or Washington. Terms and conditions subject to change.
Owners and operators of non-Union Bank ATMs may charge a fee for use of their ATMs. Receive up to 1% off the standard posted interest rate on a new business loan and/or line
Mini-statements available at Union Bank ATMs only. of credit based on 12-month average account balance(s) at time of application: 1/8% dis-
count for balances of $10,000 to $24,999; 1/4% discount for balances of $25,000 to
Higher credit lines are available with approved credit. Certain fees and other terms and $50,000; 1/2% discount for balances of $50,001 to $99,999; and 1% discount for balances
conditions apply, and are subject to change. See our Cash Reserve Account Agreement and over $100,000. Discount not available on real estate or vehicle financing. The rate dis-
Disclosure Statement for details. count may be terminated if you no longer meet the minimum account balance require-
ment of Signature Banking.
A G E W W W . C R L A . O R G
ABA Journal West declines to identify who brought allegations of
“irregularities” to the attention of his office. In an
interim report to the Subcommittee on Commercial
CHICAGO, IL • FEBRUARY 2007 and Administrative Law of the U.S. House Judiciary
Committee, West said that his office found evidence
that CRLA has violated federal laws governing the
A PRIVILEGE TO SERVE work LSC grantees are allowed to undertake.
BATTLE OVER LEGAL AID FUNDS SPILLS OVER Specifically, West said in the report, CRLA had
TO ATTORNEY CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY solicited clients, worked on a fee generating case,
By Margaret Graham Tebo requested attorney fees in a successful lawsuit and
“associated with political activities.” All are pro-
hibited under federal law for grantees using LSC
dispute between the Legal Services Corp., Left in a Bind funds. In 1996, Congress enacted reforms to
the federal clearinghouse for funding legal The question of whether federal statutes that apply statutes governing LSC funding, specifically out-
aid to indigents, and a legal aid office in to LSC grantees take precedence over state privacy lawing use of LSC money for most class actions.
California is testing the limits and definition of laws and attorney client privilege puts CRLA lawyers The changes target activities not directly related
attorney client privilege. in a bind. If they comply voluntarily with the inspec- to the representation of individual, identifiable
tor general’s request for information, they could risk clients with specific legal causes of action against
California Rural Legal Assistance, based in San
disciplinary action by California bar authorities or a particular opposing party. The amendments also
Francisco, is resisting a subpoena issued last fall by
even civil action for violating privacy laws. prohibit political activities, amicus briefs and
the LSC’s inspector general to turn over names of
monitoring private or governmental agencies for
clients and information about their cases.
Based on the facts we saw, compliance with federal statutes.
It’s the latest salvo in a six year dispute between the
LSC and the California organization, which we were deeply concerned In his report, West says he is still looking into alle-
gations of whether CRLA used LSC funds to engage
employs 53 lawyers in 22 offices around the state. that this appears to be in lobbying, employer monitoring, filing amicus
Like all LSC grantees, clients of California Rural
a troubling intrusion by a briefs and filing cases on behalf of the “general pub-
Legal Assistance must meet income threshold
lic” under California unfair competition laws. While
requirements. Many work in the local farming and
Government Grant Agency. state law allows private civil actions on behalf of the
- R. William Ide general public in some circumstances, federal law
The LSC inspector general, Kirt West, says his prohibits use of LSC funds for such litigation.
office resorted to a subpoena only after repeatedly Last spring, then ABA President Michael S. Greco of
Boston directed the Task Force on Attorney Client In addition, West says he needs more information
failing in its attempts to get CRLA to voluntarily
Privilege to review the question of whether the to determine whether CRLA “disproportionately
provide the information as part of an audit. Citing
information is protected. focuses its resources on farm worker and Latino
the investigation, he declined to say why his office
work, and, if so, whether such practice is inappro-
is seeking the information or what investigators
R. William Ide III of Atlanta, a former ABA presi- priate for an LSC grantee.”
expect to find.
dent who chairs the task force, says he was dis-
The LSC says the information is not privileged, turbed by what he sees as government intrusion “That’s Just the Way it Works”
and it is needed to show how the California into the relationship between attorneys and clients. Padilla asserts that the last allegation is at the core
group uses the money it receives from the LSC. of the investigation. He says many ranchers in the
“Based on the facts we saw, we were deeply con- area employ both legal and illegal Hispanic labor-
Grantees must allow such audits in order to
cerned that this appears to be a troubling intrusion ers, and the LSC may be trying to show that CRLA
receive funding from the congressionally char-
by a government grant agency,” says Ide. “Should has represented illegal workers. He also points
tered and funded LSC.
the states regulate lawyer ethics? Yes. Should a fed- out that CRLA is aware that federal law prohibits
But CRLA Executive Director Jose Padilla says sen- eral grant agency be able to say, ‘We gave you using LSC funds for such representation, and that
sitive client interests would be compromised by money so we get to audit’? That’s a much different care is taken to ensure named parties in labor law-
compliance with the subpoena, which seeks records question.” suits are legal.
on nearly 40,000 clients from the last three years.
Deborah Hankinson, chair of the ABA Standing continues on back page
For example, he says, revealing names and case Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants,
types would allow employers to find out who says the LSC’s audit authority doesn’t change the
has been seeking legal help on labor rights. nature of attorney client privilege for grantee organ-
Many employers would likely retaliate by firing izations such as CRLA. She says clients should be
workers who cannot afford to lose their jobs, allowed to seek legal counsel in confidence without
says Padilla. worrying that even the fact of their meeting will be
Other clients are victims of domestic violence who
may not have left abusive situations and whose “In my view, there is no difference between this and
abusers could find out that they have sought legal a private attorney being asked for information that
help, he adds. compromises a client’s interests,” says Hankinson,
who heads her own law firm in Dallas.
“We are a professional law firm, and we have to pro-
tect our clients’ privacy rights,” Padilla says. “That’s “The ABA has always stood for lawyers maintaining
an ethical duty of lawyers, and it’s a statutory the highest ethical standards and not seeing them
requirement in California as well.” California’s strict eroded as would happen here,” Hankinson says.
privacy laws prohibit agencies from revealing per-
Though West says he has no intention of sharing
sonal information without an individual’s consent.
the information outside of the LSC, he would not
Padilla says his counsel has determined that the
promise that his office would withhold the informa-
information sought by the LSC is protected by
tion if it were requested by Congress.
That troubles Padilla, who contends that the inves-
For his part, the LSC’s West says federal law gov-
tigation is a witch hunt prompted by local ranch
erns, allowing the LSC to audit grantees. West says
owners who vehemently oppose CRLA’s work to
his office needs the information to ensure that the
protect labor rights.
California group is using its grant money for the
purposes designated by Congress. West contends California Rural Legal Assistance Executive Director
that the information he seeks--primarily client Jose Padilla contends his organization is the target
names and case types--is not privileged. of a witch hunt. Photo by Melissa Barnes
41 Y E A R S O F L E G A L J U S T I C E P
A G E
CRL A OFFICES
A PRIVILEGE TO SERVE
CALIFORNIA RURAL LEGAL MARYSVILLE SANTA BARBARA
continued from page 7
ASSISTANCE, INC. Lee Pliscou, Directing Attorney Kirk Ah-Tye, Directing Attorney
“But when we win, and a rancher has to change Jose R. Padilla, Executive Director 511 “D” Street 324 E. Carrillo Street, Suite B
631 Howard Street, Suite 300 P.O. Box 2600 Santa Barbara, CA 93101
his ways, it benefits all of his workers, including (805) 963-5981
San Francisco, CA 94105-3907 Marysville, CA 95901
the immigrants without papers. That’s just the TEL (415) 777-2752 • FAX (415) 543-2752 (530) 742- 5191 • FAX ((530) 742-0421 FAX (805) 963-5984
way it works,” says Padilla. firstname.lastname@example.org MODESTO SANTA CRUZ
www.crla.org Gretchen Regenhardt,
Padilla says the allegation smacks of interfering in Katie Hogan, Directing Attorney
COACHELLA 801 15th Street, Suite B Directing Attorney
his organization’s priority setting process. He wor- Cristina Guerrero, Directing Attorney Modesto, CA 95354 501 Soquel Avenue, Suite D
ries that the information West’s office has request- (209) 577-3811 Santa Cruz, CA 95062
1460 6th Street
FAX (209) 577-1098 (831) 458-1089
ed will be scrutinized in part based on the actual P.O. Box 35
FAX (831) 458-1140
Coachella, CA 92236 MONTEREY
or perceived ethnicity of the client a move he says (760) 398-7264/7261 • FAX (760) 398-1050 Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney SANTA MARIA
has civil rights implications. Jeannie Barrett,
DELANO 2100 Garden Road #D Directing Attorney
Padilla also believes the inspector general is over- Phoebe Seaton, Directing Attorney Monterey, CA 93940 2050 “G” South Broadway
629 Main Street (831) 375-0505 Santa Maria, CA 93454
reaching his authority with some of the allega- FAX (831) 375-0501
Delano, CA 93215 (805) 922-4563
tions. Federal laws are specific about forbidden (661) 725-4350 9am-4pm FAX (805) 928-0693
activities, he says, but some allegations in West’s FAX (661) 725-1062 Dorothy Johnson, Directing Attorney SAN LUIS OBISPO
report seem to expand the definitions of what is EL CENTRO 215 S. Coast Highway, Suite 201 Michael Blank, Directing Attorney
prohibited. Arturo Rodriguez, Directing Attorney Oceanside, CA 92054 1160 Marsh Street, Suite 114
449 Broadway (760) 966-0511 • FAX (760) 966-0291 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
“We understand that we have to practice within El Centro, CA 92243 OXNARD, MIGRANT (805) 544-7997
certain restrictions, but there are enough restric- (760) 353-0220 • FAX (760) 353-6914 FAX (805) 544-3904
Jeff Ponting, Directing Attorney
tions with?out the IG expanding the re?strictions FRESNO P.O. Box 1561 PASO ROBLES
Alegria De La Cruz, Directing Attorney Oxnard, CA 93032 3350 Park Street
beyond his authority,” Padilla says. Paso Robles, CA 93446
2115 Kern Street, Suite 370 338 S. A Street
Fresno, CA 93721 Oxnard, CA 93030 (805) 239- 3708
West declines to be specific about the allegations FAX (805) 239-4912
(559) 441-8721 • FAX (559) 441-8443 (805) 486-1068 • FAX (805) 483-0535
in his report. SANTA ROSA
LAMONT OXNARD, BASIC
“We will finish our investigation and make our Ronald Perry, Directing Attorney Jeffrey Hoffman, Directing Attorney
9715 Main Street
725 Farmers Lane, #10 Bldg. B
recommendations for action, if any, to the LSC Lamont, CA 93241 338 South “A” Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
(661) 845-9066/4965 Oxnard, CA 93030
board of directors. At that time, the information (805) 483-8083 • Fax (805) 483-0535
(707) 528-9941 • FAX (707) 528-0125
becomes public,” he says. GILROY STOCKTON
Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney SALINAS, BASIC 242 N. Sutter, Suite 411
The ABA’s Ide says CRLA has long established ABA 7365 Monterey Road, Suite H Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney Stockton, CA 95202
Gilroy, CA 95020 3 Williams Road (209) 946- 0605 • FAX (209) 946-5730
policy on its side in the dispute over information P.O. Box 1566 Salinas, CA 93905
protected by the attorney client privilege. (408) 847-1408 • FAX (408) 847-1463
(831) 757-5221 • FAX (831) 757-6212
“The basic issue is that everyone is entitled to MADERA SALINAS, MIGRANT Directing Attorney
Baldwin Moy, Directing Attorney Maria Mendoza, Directing Attorney 21 Carr Street
effective assistance of counsel,” says Ide, “and that Watsonville, CA 95076
117 South Lake Street 3 Williams Road
can only happen where the nature of the represen- Madera, CA 93638 Salinas, CA 93905 (831) 724-2253
tation is controlled by the attorney and the client, (559) 674- 5671 • FAX (559) 674- 5674 (831) 757-5221 • FAX (831) 757-6212 FAX (831) 724-7530
not a federal agency. This audit request has a CREDITS
potentially devastating chilling effect.” Design: Gino Squadrito, LaserCom Design | Printing: Trade Lithography | Photos by David Bacon and CRLA archives
San Francisco, CA 94105-390
631 Howard Street, Suite 300
PERMIT NO. 1904 C A L I F O R N I A R U R A L L E G A L A S S I S TA N C E , I N C .
SAN FRANCISCO CA
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
working and living conditions faced by farm workers. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT CLAIRE RASÉ 415-777-2794 X309 OR AT CRASE@CRLA.ORG
more about our efforts to eliminate dangerous
Please visit www.agworkerhealth.org to learn
SAN DIEGO, CA SAN FRANCISCO, CA
NOVEMBER 2, 2007 OCTOBER 14, 2007
and secure transportation for farm workers.
communities have access to safe drinking water
housing. AWHP also seeks to assure that rural
health and safety in the fields and in farm worker
The goal of AWHP is to improve farm worker
the Agricultural Worker Health Project (AWHP).
Foundation (CRLAF) have joined forces to create
CRLA and the California Rural Legal Assistance
AG RIC U LTU RAL WORKE R H EALTH PROJ ECT!
CRLA AND CRLAF ARE PROUD TO LAUNCH A NEW WEBSITE FOR THE SAVE THE DATE TARDEADAS