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Last week the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the highly contentious case of Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. The case lies at the troubled junction of labor and takings law, which operate from fundamentally different premises.
In this instance, state regulations under the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 (CALRA) provide that “an agricultural employer’s property shall be available to any one labor organization for no more than four (4) thirty-day periods in any calendar year.” The period of access covers one hour before work, one hour after work, and one hour during lunch for employees to “meet and talk” about union representation.
In this case, however, the United Farm Workers (UFW) entered Cedar Point’s trim sheds one morning at 6 a.m. using bullhorns, during work hours, thereby disrupting the employer’s business operations. That simple action gives rise to two very different claims. The first, and more modest, claim is that the UFW engaged in an unfair labor act under CALRA by going beyond its regulation. The second is that the CALRA itself is unconstitutional. Any trespass onto the employer’s property, which the regulation explicitly authorizes, constitutes a taking of private property, Cedar Point argues, in violation of the Fifth Amendment that provides “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”