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WASHINGTON – The conservative justices on the Supreme Court voiced skepticism Monday over a California regulation that permits union officials to enter farms at certain times of the day to organize workers – even if the farm owner doesn’t want them there.
A 1975 state regulation allows unions to meet with farmworkers in California without an owner’s permission up to 120 days a year as long as they provide notification and don’t meet with employees during work hours. Two California fruit farmers sued, asserting the rule amounts to a government taking of their property without compensation, in violation of the Constitution.
Experts say the dispute could have broader implications than whether farmhands are unionized: At issue is the circumstances under which the government can require an owner to allow someone on their property – including for health and safety inspections.
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