Author Archives: FLOC

Gov. Cooper Signs Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Worker Bill in NC

veto 615

Only a few weeks ago during meetings with worker and immigrant rights organizations, NC Governor Roy Cooper committed to support workers and veto anti-immigrant bills. His promise was put to the test when the NC Legislature passed S615, a bill sponsored by farmers elected to the NC General Assembly that aims to stop FLOC from continuing our efforts to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Despite numerous requests from labor and immigrant rights organizations and other social justice NGOs for a veto, Governor Cooper signed S615 on July 13.

The amendment sponsor, Rep. Dixon, himself a farmer, was asked about why he feared farmworkers would join unions when there are already anti-union laws in place and replied, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” clarifying without a doubt his intention to stifle workers’ right to freedom of association and speech.

“Gov. Cooper chose to be on the wrong side of history, supporting the continuation of racist Jim Crow-era laws aimed at keeping immigrant farmworkers from achieving equal rights and ending abuses in the fields. It is a shame that this Democrat and others refuse to stand on the side of the most marginalized working poor and the immigrant workers that keep this state’s economy afloat.”

- President Baldemar Velasquez

However, the fight is not yet over. We plan to challenge this bill in the courts. Please join us for a press conference next Tuesday, July 18 at the Governor’s office in Raleigh, NC to discuss next steps to stop this bill’s implementation. More details coming soon!

Anti-Union Bill S615 Attacks Farmworkers Right to Organize

veto 615

After a series of recent farm worker wins in NC, politicians that are also growers are now trying to use their legislative power to stop workers on their own farms from organizing for better wages and working conditions. Farm Bill S615 is a shameful abuse of power that takes aim at our union in a blatant attempt to stop farm workers from achieving union agreements that include wage increases, job security, benefits, and improved working conditions. Farm Bill S615 has already passed the NC House and Senate, and we are calling on Governor Cooper to veto the bill.

Media Roundup on Farm Bill, S615:

NC Legislature Moves to Stifle Farmworkers’ Union

FLOC Joins Fight Against NC Farm Bill

NC Legislature Tries to Bust Farm Workers Union

Piden Vetar proyecto que pone trabas para sindicalizacion de trabajadores agricolas

Aprueban proyecto de ley que perjudica a trabajadores del campo de Carolina del Norte

 

To: Governor Roy Cooper
From: [Your Name]

I am shocked to hear about Farm Bill S615, the latest attack that farmers elected to the State Legislature launched against farm workers.

State Rep. David Lewis, a tobacco farmer in Eastern NC, was pushing Senate Bill 375, which would make it harder for farm workers on his own farm to organize for better wages and working conditions. Not having the votes to pass the bill, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a farmer from Warsaw, NC snuck it in as an amendment to Farm Bill, S615, which was passed on June 28 without opportunity for full discussion. These farmers are abusing their power as legislators to pass self serving laws to stop their own workers from unionizing.

Farm workers are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act and other worker protections like minimum wage, child labor, and workers compensation laws, among others. However, through the efforts of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), farm workers have won union contracts that include wage increases, job security, and improved working conditions, and this bill aims at stopping this progress.

We want to thank you for all of the good work you have done to reverse the mistakes of the past administration. As a long time advocate for working people, we ask that you veto Farm Bill, S615.

Juntas Regionales en NC!

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Vamos a tener 3 juntas regionales en NC en preparación para la convención en septiembre. Llame a nuestra oficina para confirmar su asistencia y buscarle transportación! 919-731-4433

We are hosting 3 regional meetings in NC in preparacion for the convention in September. Call our office to confirm your attendance and to find transportation for you! 919-731-4433regional meetings v2

Field Organizer in TN and KY

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Position: Field Organizer

Location: Northern/Central TN through Central Kentucky (Springfield/Clarksville-TN – Hopkinsville/Sparta, KY region: Location flexible

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. Recently, farmworkers in Kentucky and Tennessee began joining the union, seeking to fix many labor and human rights violations faced in the tobacco sector in that region. FLOC organizers from NC and OH have traveled to these areas to begin to discuss an organizing campaign with new FLOC members. Initial visits showed a large amount of labor violations and interest in addressing them. FLOC is now seeking to hire an organizer for the region.

General Position Summary: Field Organizer will visit labor camps, present information on union, build membership, recruit volunteers, organize know your rights trainings, identify issues important to members, build strategies to engage members and allies in campaigns to win collective bargaining rights and improve work conditions.

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; 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: Position details, including location, schedule, full/part-time status are negotiable. Additional information can be provided after discussion of the position details.

Kale Farmworkers Settle Lawsuit against Teachey Produce!

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Four migrant farmworkers, with the assistance of FLOC, recently settled a class action lawsuit with Teachey Produce in Rose Hill, NC! The farmworkers were compensated for wage theft, health and safety violations, and retaliatory discharge despite the Teachey Brothers using immigration threats to try to silence them.

On June 24, 2016, Pedro went to pick corn for Teachey Produce. When he got to the field, he realized there was no water despite dangerously high temperatures. That day, he had a heat stroke and had to be hospitalized. What made the situation worse was that the Teacheys then refused to file a workman’s comp claim or help Pedro with the hospital bill that was equivalent to almost a whole season’s worth of Pedro’s wages.

On another occasion, Floricel Morales-Cruz spent a day picking kale and packaging it into boxes. After an entire day’s work, the Teacheys dumped the kale onto the ground, told him that it wasn’t good enough, and refused to pay him for his work. Meanwhile, Victoria Hernandez and Florencio Jose-Ambrosio also worked picking kale and were paid per bucket, but experienced unauthorized deductions from their checks without explanation.

The four migrant farmworkers worked with FLOC organizers to try to settle the dispute informally; however, after the Teacheys responded by threatening to call ICE, the workers decided to file a class action lawsuit together against Teachey Produce. Later, during the mediation of the claims, the plaintiffs were told that they were “wetbacks” and would be “kicked back to Mexico.” Despite the threats, a settlement was reached, and in total, Teachey Produce will pay over $60,000 to resolve all claims!

“Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated incident in Southern agriculture, especially during the Trump presidency. We’re happy we could assist these workers in standing up for their rights and getting what was owed to them. We’ll do everything we can to assist more workers in joining together to face these problems collectively.” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez.

Click here to read about another recent win for farmworkers in NC!

Remembering 50 Years of Struggle: FLOC ft. Sandra Cisneros!

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Featuring Sandra Cisneros
Wednesday, May 31 / 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Main Library, 325 Michigan St.

Join FLOC
 along with special guest, acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros, for its 50th anniversary celebration.
 
This free event will include:
  • A reception at 6 p.m.
  • A performance of labor songs by Aguila Negra 
  • A remembrance of pivotal events and the contributions of community and religious supporters
  • A presentation by author Sandra Cisneros
About the Author:
Sandra Cisneros is the internationally renowned author of The House on Mango StreetCarameloWoman Hollering CreekHave You Seen Marie?and most recently, A House of My Own. She has received the MacArthur Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and is also the founder of the Macondo Foundation, the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation, and Los MacArturos (the Latino MacArthur Fellows).
 
Books by Sandra Cisneros will be sold by Friends of the Library for the author to sign.
 
 
For more information, please contact:
419.243.3456, ext. 2

Taller Legal

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Para nuestr@s miembr@s en Carolina del Norte: ven al taller gratuito en FLOC para saber como se puede defenderse y prepararse en caso de una detención de usted u otra persona en su familia. Antes del taller, se necesita ver un video y preparar sus documentos con un@ representante de FLOC. LLAMENOS para reservar su cita! 919-731-4433

For our members in NC: come to a free workshop in FLOC to learn how you can defend and prepare for a possible detention of yourself or someone in your family. Before the workshop, you will need to watch a video and prepare documents with a representative of FLOC. CALL US to reserve your appointment! 919-731-4433

FLOC Pushes PMI to Help Blacklisted Workers

PMI SHM 2017 pic

In October 2015, 8 tobacco farm workers decided to speak out against pervasive wage theft and intimidation on their farm in Newton Grove, NC where they were employed through the Farm Labor Contractor Jr. Perez. After the workers spoke to auditors from the tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) as well as the US Department of Labor about the issues and saw no results, they collaborated with FLOC to stage a work stoppage to recover their stolen wages. The workers were then retaliated against and blacklisted by Jr. Perez, who continues to deny them employment.

PMI boasts having higher labor standards than most tobacco companies including freedom of association and collective bargaining rights for workers in their supply chain, but when FLOC has pressed them on how these standards apply to real life situations, they are silent. To date, PMI has not informed FLOC of any actions taken to protect and defend the 8 workers who risked their livelihoods to fix inequities in PMI’s supply chain.

“Scripture instructs us in 1 John 3:18, ‘…not in word or speech, but in truth and action.’ This is what we Faith Leaders from different traditions in New York City have and are asking of PMI and their suppliers. Not merely to write an ALP [Agricultural Labor Practices Code] but to have it placed into action so that unethical Farm Labor Contractors like Jr. Perez will be unable to blacklist individuals.”- Reverend Luis-Alfredo Cartagena

On May 3, 2017 during PMI’s shareholders meeting in New York, President Velasquez and New York religious leaders questioned PMI on their lack of response to the blacklisting of the 8 FLOC members. They also presented a resolution that would allow PMI to fix systemic issues in their supply chain and empower more workers to come out of the shadows.

“None of the steps PMI has taken constitute an independent grievance mechanism. They are all paid for and financed by PMI. FLOC has continuously shown that corporate funded grievances mechanisms don’t work; we need an independent process for workers to report and resolve issues like wage theft, intimidation, retaliation, and child labor.” – President Velasquez

In response, PMI Chairman Camilleri stated that they would work with both the Farm Labor Practices Group as well as FLOC to create a proper grievance mechanism that would transform their written policies into real tools that workers can use to correct labor violations. PMI needs to act fast, not just for the 8 workers blacklisted by Jr. Perez, but for all farmworkers who face human rights abuses but are silenced by the threat of retaliation.

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