In the largest settlement of its kind, the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board on Wednesday approved the payment of $2.5 million by a major Imperial Valley vegetable grower to 200 farm workers who were not rehired after a 1979 strike.
The agreement between the family of the late Mario Saikhon and the United Farm Workers union was approved by the board in Sacramento, with payment to be made within five days. The UFW had sought $4 million.
The UFW claimed that the Saikhon family, major growers of lettuce, cantaloupes and broccoli, had illegally refused to rehire workers because they exercised their legal right to strike, a violation of law.
“It’s a good settlement because the family wanted the litigation put behind them,” said San Diego attorney Scott Wilson, who represented the Saikhons.
Tim Foote, regional director of the ALRB, said that to affix responsibility, the board had to “pierce the corporate veil” put up by the Saikhon family.
Mario Saikhon pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges and agreed to pay $22 million in back taxes, penalties and interest--the largest settlement of a federal tax case in U.S. history. He died in March, three months after getting out of prison for medical reasons.