President and Founder
Born in 1947, Baldemar grew up in a migrant farmworker family based in the Rio Grande valley of Texas. Every year, his family would migrate to the Midwest and other regions to work in the fields planting, weeding, and harvesting crops like pickles, tomatoes, sugar beets, and berries. They traveled in trucks and old cars, and often lived in barns and converted chicken coops. The family eventually settled in Ohio, and Baldemar worked in the fields seasonally through his high school years to help support the family. In 1969 he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, graduating from Bluffton College with a BA in Sociology.
Incensed by the injustices suffered by his family and other farmworkers, Baldemar founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967. Under his leadership FLOC has set international precedents in labor history, including being the first union to negotiate multi-party collective bargaining agreements, and the first to represent H2A international guestworkers under a labor agreement. Baldemar is an internationally recognized leader in the farmwoker and immigrants rights movements. His commitment to justice and human dignity have led to recognition by many labor, government, academic, and progressive organizations, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, a Development of People Award by the Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Catholic Conference, an Aguila Azteca Award by the Government of México, and several Honorary Doctorates from Bowling Green State University, Bluffton University, and University of Toledo. In 2009 Baldemar was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
In 2008, President Velasquez spent a week working in the tobacco fields of North Carolina. You can read his daily journal about the experience here.
Justin was raised in both Long Island, New York and Ponce, Puerto Rico and moved to NC for college in 2002. Justin graduated from the University of North Carolina School Of Law in 2009, where he focused on labor and employment law. He decided to use his legal education towards assisting in the organizing efforts of Latino workers in North Carolina and began working as a staff organizer with FLOC in June, 2009. Justin’s work focuses on contract administration, membership education, and community outreach around FLOC’s campaign to end human rights abuses in the tobacco industry. In 2011, Justin was named director of the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice, which works with the membership and other contacts of FLOC, supporting education and organizing of the farmworker community. He was elected Vice President of FLOC at the 2013 Constitutional Convention.
Christiana was born in 1979 to Baldemar and Sara Velasquez in Toledo, Ohio. She grew up marching on picket lines and organizing in the farmworker community alongside her parents. As she went through junior and senior high school, she found herself drawn to the work of standing up for those who were less fortunate and could not speak for themselves. After high school she began working for FLOC as a Special Projects Coordinator, working on organizational management and administration. She studied Early Childhood Education at Lourdes College, but ultimately decided that her heart was in FLOC’s work. She expanded her work at FLOC, taking on the accounting as well as reaching out into the community and speaking about farmworker issues and FLOC’s organizing work. In 2010 Christiana was elected to FLOC’s board of directors, and then elected as Secretary Treasurer in 2015. Christiana has a true heart for farmworker justice, and brings integrity, transparency, and passion to the organization.