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Webb Ranch trailer assignments are not university's business, Casper says

STANFORD -- Who should be allowed to live in trailers the university donated more than a year ago for Webb Ranch workers?

The issue may have to be resolved by professional arbitration, President Gerhard Casper told the Faculty Senate on Oct. 14. He was responding to a question put to him two weeks earlier by Ron Rebholz, chairman of English.

Rebholz said the Webb Ranch Worker Tenants' Council was supposed to assign the trailers. However, the ranch owners gave one to a farm worker supervisor and one to a retired couple who no longer work on the ranch, Rebholz said. They also paid one worker $2,000 to surrender his right to a trailer.

Casper told Rebholz that the collective bargaining agreement between the Webbs and United Stanford Workers "appears to provide for resolving" the dispute with professional arbitration if necessary.

"Stanford is not party to this collective bargaining agreement and should not take positions on this," Casper said. The university made a gift of the trailers, but "who occupies which trailer cannot be part of our responsibility," he said.

William Simon, law, told Casper that the existence of the collective bargaining agreement "is completely irrelevant" to what Rebholz asked. He questioned whether the university as donor had any leverage in the assignment issue.

"No," Casper responded. The trailers were transferred with conditions about making them habitable and in compliance with county regulations, but not about assignment.

Simon persisted, asking if the trailers were given so free of conditions that the owners could sell them and pocket the money.

Casper said he did not know, but that possibility "does not follow from this particular situation."

Rebholz told Casper that the "Webbs are clearly in violation of the collective bargaining agreement," and that the workers have a "profound distrust of the arbitration process."

The university, Casper responded, "cannot manage other people's businesses. We did last year when it was an issue of safety."

"I greatly appreciate that you are interested in this," he said to Simon and Rebholz, encouraging them to stay involved.

However, the university "does have very urgent business to attend to and every minute I spend on these matters means a minute I cannot spend on Stanford University business."



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