Author Archives: FLOC

“We are the strength of the union”

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 8.33.26 PM

[español abajo]

For the last 9 years, union members have gathered in Monterrey before the start of the growing season to sharpen their skills as union leaders and organizers and discuss the union’s strategy on key issues. This leadership training plays a crucial role in empowering members with the necessary tools and knowledge to tackle the issues that they’ll confront when they arrive in the fields of North Carolina.

Training topics included: identifying and filing grievances, using the workers compensation procedure, participation in the union’s democratic process, negotiating for better benefits and pay, and supply chain strategies to improve conditions on farms.

“I see this meeting as the start of the organizing work in North Carolina. We get together with the most active and involved members to cover important topics, make a plan, and learn things that we’ll use in NC to improve the conditions in the camps and encourage other workers to join the union.”

 

Vice President Justin Flores

This year’s training on March 18 and 19 laid the groundwork for the 2017 quadrennial convention where members will vote for the union’s leadership, goals, and direction for the next four years. Members formed committees and discussed resolutions to present at the convention including a possible boycott of a Reynolds American tobacco product.

“We are the strength of the union. [In Monterrey], we proposed what will be carried out in the convention in Ohio. In each group that was formed, we discussed what we wanted, and from these we will bring a summary to Ohio to analyze and see what things the people are asking for and what are the needs of the union members.”

 

 

 

- FLOC member Rene Rubio

FLOC members Felipe, Albino and Eli also gave reports on their experiences as members of the negotiating team that helped negotiate a new 4-year union contract between FLOC and the North Carolina Growers’ Association. They covered specifics of the new agreement and highlighted how members can use the contract and its grievance mechanism to be their own camp inspectors and advocates for change.

A special thanks to the Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO for sponsoring the training!

 

 

Por los últimos 9 años, miembros del sindicato se han juntado en Monterrey antes del comienzo de la temporada para mejorar sus dotes de liderazgo del sindicato y hablar de la estrategia sindical en asuntos importantes. Este entrenamiento del liderazgo juega un papel fundamental en empoderar miembros con las herramientas y conocimiento necesario para abordar los problemas que se enfrentarán al llegar a los campos en Carolina del Norte.

Temas de formación incluyeron: identificar y resolver agravios, usar el proceso de compensación laboral, participar en el proceso democrático del sindicato, negociar mejores beneficios y paga y la estrategia de organizar en las cadenas de producción para mejorar condiciones en los campos.

“Yo veo esta reunión como el comienzo del trabajo de organizar en Carolina del Norte. Nos juntamos con los miembros más activos, los miembros más involucrados. Tocamos los puntos importantes, hacemos un plan, aprendemos unas cosas que usamos allí en Carolina del Norte para ir mejorando las condiciones del campo, animando más compañeros para unirse a la unión” – Vice Presidente Justin Flores

El entrenamiento de este año que tomó lugar el 18 y 19 de marzo empezó a formar la base para la convención cuatrienal de 2017 donde miembros votarán por el liderazgo, metas y dirección del sindicato para los próximos 4 años. Miembros formaron comités y hablaron de resoluciones para presentar en la convención, incluyendo la posibilidad de un boicot de un producto de tabaco de Reynolds American Inc.

Somos la fuerza del sindicato. [En Monterrey], nosotros planteamos que se lleva al cabo en la convención en Ohio. En cada grupo que se formaba, se mencionaba que es lo que queríamos, y de todas esas se llevará un resumen a Ohio para que lo analicen y vean cuales son las cosas que está pidiendo la gente y las necesidades de los sindicalizados.” – Rene Rubio, Miembro de FLOC

Felipe, Albino y Eli, miembros de FLOC, también presentaron sus experiencias como miembros del equipo de negociación que ayudaron a negociar un nuevo acuerdo sindical de 4 años entre FLOC y la Asociación de Rancheros de Carolina del Norte. Abarcaron los específicos del nuevo acuerdo y enfatizaron como miembros pueden usar el contrato y su proceso de quejas para ser sus propios inspectores de campamentos y promotores de cambio.

¡Un agradecimiento especial al Centro de Solidaridad del AFL-CIO por patrocinar el entrenamiento!

Add your name to #RaisetheWage in NC!

raisingwagesNC

Farmworkers work over 12 hour days in the fields, exposing themselves to pesticides, dangerous temperatures, and other health hazards – and yet many of them are still living in poverty, barely able to put food on the table. For too long, tobacco companies like Reynolds American Inc. have marginalized farmers to keep tobacco prices low, resulting in poverty wages and exploitation for those at the bottom of their supply chain. It is time for companies like Reynolds to use their wealth and industry power to ensure economic security and justice for everyone in their supply chain by paying fair prices for their tobacco and signing an agreement with FLOC to guarantee farmworkers freedom of association.

Add your name to support raising the minimum wage in North Carolina to $15 in 5 years! Then, click here to read more about the Reynolds Campaign. 

Open Position: Field Organizer for FLOC

Position: Field Organizer

Location: Dudley, NC

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is both a social movement and a labor union. Our immediate constituency is migrant workers in the agricultural industry, but we are also involved with immigrant workers, Latinos, our local communities, and national and international coalitions concerned with justice. FLOC was founded in 1967 to organize for economic, legal and human rights for farmworkers in the Midwest, and now represents more than 10,000 farmworkers in Ohio, North and South Carolina. In 2007 FLOC began a campaign targeting Reynolds American, Inc., the second largest tobacco company in the US, for their complicity in the abuses of farmworkers who harvest their company’s tobacco. FLOC continues to raise awareness of these problems and build support among farmworkers and community allies until Reynolds acknowledges their role in ensuring fair wages and safe and healthy living conditions for all farmworkers harvesting tobacco.

General Position Summary: *Position is for a three month organizing apprenticeship, with possible offer of full time employment after three month period and evaluation* Field staff will be responsible for visiting labor camps, responding to member calls, recruiting new members, investigating and resolving union members’ complaints, conducting labor rights training, organizing regional membership meetings, as well as related administrative tasks and coordinating public actions, as needed to support workplace actions.

Qualifications: Flexible schedule, willing to travel and work evenings and weekends; able to travel for 1-2 week periods; fluent Spanish is required; demonstrated commitment to social justice/labor rights issues; applicants from a farmworker background preferred; must have valid driver’s license and a car and be willing to drive for work (mileage reimbursed)

How to apply: Applications will be accepted until position is filled. Please send a cover letter and resume to Justin Flores at jflores@floc.com.

Compensation: Apprentice will be paid $1,000 per 15 day pay period.After Apprentice period, if full-time position is offered,salary ranges from $26,000-$30,000 per year within first year with annual evaluation and potential increase thereafter; full health care benefits and generous vacation policy. Three month training period, followed by evaluation will occur before a full-time position is offered.

Open Position: Community Organizer with CMWJ

Position: Community Organizer

Location: Dudley, NC

The Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice (CMWJ) works to support migrant workers organizing to improve conditions in the fields and in the broader community. We organize with migrant workers and allies to fight for a more equitable agricultural system where farmworkers have a voice as stakeholders, and have the right to collectively bargain and negotiate fair wages and safe, humane working conditions. CMWJ also works with address issues of social justice outside of the workplace through community organizing, training, research, and technical support to migrant workers.

General Position Summary: *Position is for a three month organizing apprenticeship, with possible offer of full time employment after three month period and evaluation* Community Organizer will work with membership of CMWJ partner, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, as well as the broader immigrant community in Eastern NC, to bring people together and develop and implement strategies to ensure equal justice for all, regardless of national origin or immigration status. Key focus areas include workplace rights, improved law enforcement practices, ending ICE collaboration with local police, supporting youth empowerment, and building networks to support families when a member is detained by law enforcement.

Qualifications: Flexible schedule, willing to travel and work evenings and weekends; able to travel for 1-2 week periods; fluent Spanish is required; applicants from a farmworker background preferred; demonstrated commitment to social justice/labor rights issues; must have valid driver’s license and a car and be willing to drive for work (mileage reimbursed)

How to apply: Applications will be accepted until position is filled. Please send a cover letter and resume to Justin Flores at jflores@cmwj.org.

Compensation: Apprentice will be paid $1,000 per 15 day pay period.After Apprentice period, if full-time position is offered,salary ranges from $26,000-$30,000 per year within first year with annual evaluation and potential increase thereafter; full health care benefits and generous vacation policy. Three month training period, followed by evaluation will occur before a full-time position is offered.

Undercover Video Shows Child Labor in the Fields

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in the fields? Watch as Kiwi Callahan goes undercover in Eastern NC to reveal the truth about child labor in the fields.

Part One of Where I Don’t Belong: In the Fields

 Part Two of Where I Don’t Belong: In the Fields

 

FLOC has continuously called on Reynolds American to sign an agreement with FLOC to guarantee the right to freedom of association to all farmworkers in their supply chain. In May 2016, RAI for the first-time admitted instances of child labor, hazardous working conditions and other human rights abuses on contract farms in their 2015 audit report; however, they continue to deny farmworkers the right to organize and collectively bargain without fear of retaliation, arguing that simple trainings can solve the inequities in their supply chain. Click here to read more about the Reynolds campaign!

FLOC celebrates the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera

oscar-lopez-rivera

(español abajo)

After serving 35 years in prison, Oscar Lopez Rivera has been transferred home to Puerto Rico where he will be released after finishing the last three months of his sentence. Join us in celebrating his long-awaited freedom!

As a leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), Lopez Rivera fought for Puerto Rican independence. In 1977, he was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy because of his anticolonial organizing. For decades, human rights groups and activists like Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter have called for the release of Lopez Rivera. More recently, FLOC President Velasquez sent a letter to President Obama in January 2017, calling on him to use his executive power to commute his sentence and release him.

“I am joining the voices of my Latino brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and the US as well as so many concerned persons not only here but globally, asking that you release Oscar Lopez Rivera before your term as President ends. Mr. Rivera has certainly served his time; and there is no societal benefit for his continued incarceration. In fact, persons of good will around the world would welcome his release as a humanitarian act so indicative of who you are as a person and as a President.”

 

 

FLOC celebra la libertad de Oscar López Rivera

Después de servir 35 años de su sentencia de prisión, Oscar López Rivera ha sido traslado a su hogar, Puerto Rico, donde va a ser liberado después de terminar los últimos tres meses de su sentencia. Únanse con nosotrxs en celebración de una larga espera para ser liberado!

Como líder de las Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), fue detenido y convicto por conspiración sediciosa debido a su organización anticolonial. Por décadas, grupos y activistas de derechos humanos como Desmund Tutu y Jimmy Carter han exigido su liberación. Recientemente, Presidente Velásquez escribió al presidente Obama en enero de 2017, solicitándole que use su poder ejecutivo para conmutar la sentencia y liberar a Lopez Rivera.

“Me estoy uniendo a las llamadas de mis hermanxs latinxs en Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos, así como tantas personas interesadas no solo aquí sino en todo el mundo, pidiéndole la liberación de Oscar Lopez Rivera antes de que se termine su mandato como presidente. Sin duda, señor Rivera ha cumplido su condena. De hecho, personas de buena voluntad de todo el mundo agradecerían su liberación como un acto humanitario tan indicativo de quien eres como persona y como presidente.”

FLOC Members Reach Settlement with Senator Jackson

(English below)

Miembros de FLOC llegan a un acuerdo con el senador Jackson

Después de varias acciones, 10.000 firmas en una petición y meses de negociaciones, los miembros de FLOC que demandaron al Senador Brent Jackson y su hijo Rodney Jackson llegaran a un acuerdo! La demanda colectiva empezó en octubre del 2015, cuando Rodney Jackson corrió a José Alberto, un trabajador migrante de México, porque no pudo pagar $2.400 por una bomba de gasolina que se rompió durante un accidente laboral. Después de su despido injusto, seis compañeros de José Alberto decidieron unirse a él y presentar una demanda en contra del Senador Jackson por presunta violación de paga.

En el acuerdo procurado por el abogado Robert Willis, Jackson Farming Company se deslindó de toda responsabilidad, pero aceptó pagar $96.950.00 para resolver las quejas presentadas por los demandantes. En total, los demandantes recibirán $50.000 para que sean divididos entre los siete demandantes por presunto reclamo de robo de salario y represalias por denunciar el presunto robo. Además, como parte del acuerdo, cada empleado de Jackson Farming Company que trabajó en el rancho en la temporada del 2015 califica para recibir $50. Toda la gente que trabajó en la temporada del 2015 debe de recibir formas y una carta por correo que explica el acuerdo. Para recibir esta plata, reclamantes necesitan mandar sus formas con una copia de su identificación dentro de 120 días después de que se mandara la notificación. Para preguntas acerca del acuerdo, llamen al abogado Roberto Willis o a CMWJ (por sus siglas en inglés Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice) 919-731-4433.

 

FLOC Members Reach Settlement with Senator Jackson

After various actions, 10,000 petition signatures, and months of negotiations, the FLOC members who filed legal claims in 2015 against Senator Brent Jackson and his son Rodney Jackson reached a settlement! The class action lawsuit began in October 2015, when Rodney Jackson fired Jose Alberto, a migrant farmworker from Mexico, because he couldn’t pay $2,400 for a gas pump piece that broke during a workplace accident. After the unjust firing, six of Jose’s coworkers took a stand with Jose and filed legal claims against Senator Jackson for alleged wage violations.

In the settlement procured by Attorney Robert Willis, Jackson Farming Company continued to deny liability but agreed to pay $96,950.00 to resolve the issues brought forth by the plaintiffs. In total, the plaintiffs will receive $50,000 to divide between the seven of them for alleged claims of wage theft and retaliation for speaking out. Additionally, as part of the settlement each Jackson Farming Company employee who worked for the farm in the 2015 seasonis eligible to receive $50. Everyone who worked the 2015 season should receive forms and a letter in the mail describing the settlement. To receive this money, claimants need to submit their forms with a copy of an ID within 120 days of mailing of the notice. For questions about the settlement, call Attorney Robert Willis or the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice at 919-731-4433.

 

World’s Tobacco Workers United in Global Fight for Justice

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 12.35.37 PM

FLOC’s fight to improve working and living conditions for tobacco workers has expanded into a global call for action 

 

On January 30, FLOC President and Founder Baldemar Velasquez traveled to Yangon, Myanmar to invite agricultural unions to join FLOC in a global call to implement human rights for agricultural workers. While many tobacco companies like Reynolds American and British American claim to have protocols that protect farmworkers, they continuously move production to countries where it’s easier to exploit workers through lower wages and safety standards. During the World Conference of Agricultural Workers’ Unions, President Velasquez highlighted the need for all agricultural workers to fight together in an international effort to improve working conditions within the transnational supply chains of tobacco companies.

The global call began in 2016 in Malawi, Africa when union leaders from 8 tobacco growing countries in Africa and Latin American assembled with FLOC to discuss the problems that union members face. It quickly became clear that tobacco workers across the world deal with many of the same issues such as poverty wages, child labor, sexual harassment, lack of access to water, and job insecurity. In response to these issues and the failure of charity programs, trainings, and audits to have a meaningful effect on conditions in the fields, a declaration was drafted and adopted, initiating a global call for action. Specifically, the declaration calls on Reynolds American and other tobacco companies to guarantee the right to freedom of association by creating a practical mechanism that allows workers to negotiate the conditions of their labor without fear of being fired or retaliated against.

This week, the agricultural sector unions of the IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations) officially ratified the declaration and vowed to fight together with FLOC for farmworker justice! The final version of the declaration and work plan will be presented to the IUF 27th Congress in Geneva in August.

 

Click here to read the full declaration presented in Myanmar!

 

[President Velasquez] said the global “call for action” represents a coordinated step toward protecting agricultural workers across the world, and he vowed to take international tobacco companies to task who won’t allow their laborers to organize.

“Each country, with the support of all the organized unions, will trigger an economic pressure on the tobacco companies to make good on freedom of association, the right to represent ourselves,” he said, adding union leaders are laying the groundwork for a global boycott of some tobacco distributors. “This will get their attention.”


“Toledo FLOC leader issues ‘call to action’”,Toledo Blade, Feb. 3, 2017

 

 

 

BV speaking in Myanmar wide

 

Members Convene in Nayarit to Prepare for FLOC Convention

Nayarit Meeting

On Sunday, January 8 2017, union members gathered in Santiago Ixcuintla, Nayarit Mexico to kick off a new year of organizing. 2017 represents numerous significant landmarks for FLOC. This September, members from across the South and Midwest will come together for our quadrennial convention and 50th Founding Anniversary Celebration. Members began preparing for the convention by forming committees and starting conversations about what they want their union’s priorities to be for the next 4 years.

 

In the agricultural off season, members who come to the US with temporary agricultural visas return to their homes in Mexico. For many members who come from the state of Nayarit, their work in the fields doesn’t end just because they have left North Carolina. Nayarit, located on Western coast of Mexico, grows more tobacco than any other state in Mexico.

Isidro Castro

Union member Isidro Castro took FLOC representatives on a tour of tobacco fields in Nayarit. Isidro explains that while the work is the same, the pay and conditions are not. What members make in an hour in North Carolina, they make with a whole day’s work in Mexico. Working in the fields in Mexico also means working without the protection of a union. Health and safety violations, wage theft and child labor are common, and there is no grievance mechanism to address these issues.

 

During the membership meeting, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez explained the potential for FLOC’s tobacco campaign to end exploitation in the fields not just in the US, but also in Mexico. “It is time that we join with our counter-part workers in other countries and collectively press the tobacco companies to reflect dignity and respect throughout their global supply-chains.”

 

 

« Older Entries