Judge rules in Central Valley farm workers dispute

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ A judge says the timing's not right for him to force a
union-negotiated contract onto a Central California fruit farmer that employs
thousands of workers.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton says a larger dispute
that's divided workers at Gerawan Farming has to be resolved first.

The United Farm Workers union wants the contract, but Gerawan workers voted
last year in a move that could kick out the union because some of them say
they're paid well enough without a union.

The state's Agricultural Labor Relations Board asked the judge to impose the
contract, which was hammered out by a mediator.

But Gerawan appealed to a higher court, saying the mediator's powers are
unconstitutional.

Judge Hamilton says the appeal needs to play out before he can be asked to
enforce the contract.

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