Does the Source of news make for Better Understanding?

There is a substantial difference in what one reads in the popular press versus what is written by independent columnists.  The Washington Post is an example of the popular press that publishes news.  Alternatively, syndicated columnists are independently published by a host of news outlets and more often explain policy.  Which one you choose determines much of what you know about the subjects written about by one or the other.  Generally, newspapers publishing national news will control how the journalists they employ will write about a political subject.  This results from the fact that a newspaper’s publisher and editor often share the same opinions as their political party affiliation.  Because of that relationship, journalists working for the popular newspaper usually attempt to provide a basis for how the subject should be interpreted by the reader.  Robert Barnes, a journalist employee of the Washington Post (“TWP”) was the author of an article on the forthcoming Supreme Court case, Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid in which the Supreme Court is about to hear oral arguments.  In the same issue of TWP, George F. Willa, an independent columnist and self-described Libertarian has his columns carried by some 450 other publications, including Newsweek and ABC News as examples.  

The Cedar Point case concerns two California agricultural growers — Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Co. — as lead litigants pressing a Constitutional challenge to a California statute administered by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (“CALRB”).  Cedar Point and Fowler (“Cedar Point”) together employ over 3000 workers under CALRB jurisdiction.  Cedar Point is not unionized.  A California law administered by CALRB permits union organizers to come onto an agricultural grower’s property for 120 days a year, three hours per day.  Cedar Point claims union organizers came onto Cedar Point property in October 2015, and in a frightening scene marched up and down through Cedar Point’s building with bull horns while workers were present.  This incident is the basis for the litigation that followed Cedar Point’s dismissed complaint to the CALRB.  Cedar Point sued  in federal court for redress of the constitutional violation of their property rights and just compensation for the” taking” by the union organization that disrupted operations in an unconstitutional property rights violation of the Bill of Rights.  After appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case has reached the Supreme Court.  Below is how TWP reported the case in Sunday’s news columns written by Robert Barnes, and in George F. Will’s regular column in the same edition on the opinion page of the paper.  

The headline on the Barnes report was “Farmer’s feud with union spurs a Supreme Court battle.”  Victoria Hassid, Chairman of the CALRB, said,  “The petitioners are really putting forward an incredibly extreme theory that would imperil a whole host of regulatory schemes at the local, state and federal level that goes beyond labor:  public health statutes, food and drug statutes, child welfare statutes, environmental statutes, tenants’ rights, consumer protection.”  Hassid followed by explaining the Board’s job.  [It] is not to necessarily say you should join a union.”  In a separate interview Hassid said, “Our job is to ensure that if workers decide to do that, they have the tools available to them.  And this case gets right to the heart of an incredibly critical tool for farmworkers when it comes to actually knowing those rights are available them.  She then added, part of the workforce is under educated, moves frequently, is hard to reach on social media and may face language barriers.  They are often dependent on growers for transportation, making it difficult for organizers to reach them except when they are on the farms, sometimes in remote parts of the State.”  The State of California entered the case by filing a brief, in which it said:  “The regulation may interfere with property owners’ right to exclude certain organizations for the brief periods of authorized access; it is not comparable to a permanent physical occupation.” The State also claims the justices have already ruled that way on access to workplaces granted by the National Labor Relations Act, upon which the state law is modeled.  In explaining the petitioners positions, the Pacific Legal Foundation, petitioner’s lawyers dispute Hassid’s case has far-ranging  ramifications, but acknowledge their goal is to limit government’s reach onto private property and to affirm the rights of property owners to exclude those they don’t want on their land.  The case requires the Supreme Court to consider what is called the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution:  “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Barnes then closed with more than a full column noting the interest in the case of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, farm bureaus, and conservative organizations.   Both sides can claim the Department of Justice is on their side.  In Donald Trump’s time in office, the department filed a 33-page brief supporting the growers.  After President Biden was inaugurated, acting Solicitor General Prelogar sent a four-paragraph letter to the Supreme Court saying the Justice Department’s brief was no longer applicable, and it is therefore the position of the United States, in line with this court’s cases, that the California regulation – like the authorization of temporary entry by government officials for law enforcement, inspection, and similar purposes – does not constitute a per se taking.  TWP’s news article was approximately two-thirds greater in length than that of George F. Will.  

Cedar Point Nursery had some 100 full-time workers and more than 400 seasonal workers preparing strawberry plants when the union organizers surged through the buildings at 5 a.m.   The organizer’s behavior was legal under California law wrote George F. Will in the opening of his column.  Cedar Point, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation argue court precedents establish that the California regulation that compels them to allow union organizers on their property for 120 days a year constitutes a taking of a real property interest, for which they must be compensated.  This case illustrates how governments nibble away at property rights, which provide individuals a zone of sovereignty.  Furthermore, the CALRB’s regulations provide that while the UFW organizers are “talking with employees and soliciting their support, employers are forbidden to interfere with them, and the board construes “observing” the organizers as “interference.  Settling property rights that the Founders considered foundational for political liberty is at stake.  “Property right means dominion one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe” (quoted by James Madison of William Blackstone, jurist).  George F. Will notes Cedar Point Nursery farmworkers resist unionization because their employer already provides housing for seasonal workers and co-litigant Fowler Packing Co. provides free meals and a medical clinic for its employees, and the employees similarly to Cedar Point resist union organizers.  

Property rights are foundational as the strongest basis for individual incentives to work productively and include more than just landed property.  This case has much more importance than a squabble between a union, backed by government statutes and the few remaining agricultural growers which remain non-unionized.                                                                                                                                March 22, 2021