Author Archives: FLOC
On September 9, 2017 FLOC members from Ohio and the Carolinas convened in Toledo, OH for FLOC’s 13th Constitutional Convention. Not only did this convention represent the culmination of a year of camp meetings, regional membership meetings in both Mexico and in the US, and the previous day’s committee meeting, but it also represented the successes of the past 50 years of FLOC’s work and constant struggle.
Members voted to reelect Baldemar Velasquez as president, Justin Flores as vice president, and Christiana Velasquez as Secretary Treasurer. They also voted for the FLOC Board and welcomed on two new board members: former FLOC Vice President Leticia Zavala and FLOC member and leader Eli Porras Carmona.
“[translated] I accepted the nomination with all of my heart and the will to accomplish many things for my coworkers. There is a lot to do, and I am sure that together we will accomplish la Victoria for all of our proposed resolutions.” – said newly elected board member Eli Porras.
Special guest speakers included Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks Hudson, Leonel Rivero, FLOC’s Mexico attorney, and Francisco Pablo Jimenez of MOCRI, a former political prisoner liberated after fighting contamination from mining companies in rural Mexico.
After the convention, allies joined FLOC members for a march and rally in downtown Toledo to defend immigrant rights and make sure that Toledo doesn’t become another Charlottesville. Click here to watch the march in action!
Members vote to boycott VUSE e-cigarette
Members presented, debated, and passed 13 resolutions including two emergency resolutions which will give the union leadership guidance on what the union’s work for the next four years will entail. Resolutions addressed important issues and topics like wages, housing, retirement benefits, immigration reform, and education.
One of the most important moments of the convention came when, in a unanimous vote, delegates passed a resolution to boycott Reynolds e-cigarette VUSE to escalate FLOC’s campaign with tobacco giant Reynolds American to guarantee farmworkers the right to organize!
Speaking to this resolution, Jose Benjamin, an H2A tobacco worker in North Carolina, said, “[translated] We have given a lot to the tobacco companies and in return they have given us very little. We are the ones who work, and we are the ones who suffer.”
Thank you to everyone who helped make this convention possible!
The convention would not have been possible without our amazing volunteers and drivers who helped register delegates, pick up and transport members, act as security to keep our members safe, and translate between Spanish and English. A special thanks to the National Farmworker Ministry and the YAYAs who drove here from Florida to participate and volunteer at the convention. And lastly, a HUGE thank you to our sponsors whose donations made this convention fiscally possible!
The IUF (International Union Federation) votes to join FLOC in an international fight against tobacco companies
During the 27th IUF World Congress in Geneva, the IUF unanimously adopted a resolution co-authored by FLOC that calls on tobacco companies to guarantee farmworkers freedom of association. While many tobacco companies like Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, and Philip Morris International 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.
In October 2016, FLOC traveled to Malawi, Africa to gather with union leaders from 8 tobacco growing countries in Africa and Latin American and discuss the common problems that farmworkers face globally: 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, the coalition of unions drafted a resolution calling on unions to work together to fix issues in the transnational tobacco companies’ supply chains. Specifically, the resolution 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.
“Today, we received phenomenal support from the IUF for our global tobacco campaign. Specifically we gathered significant support in launching the next phase of the campaign for a Vuse electronic cigarette boycott.” Said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez
Listen to the Public News Service report on the passing of the IUF & FLOC resolution: International Effort Gains Momentum to Protect NC Tobacco Workers
FLOC Condemns the Violent Attack in Charlottesville, VA and Celebrates All Those Who Fight Against White Supremacy
Our hearts go out to the people of Charlottesville, Virginia, especially to those who lost their lives or who were injured during Saturday’s racist attack. We also stand in solidarity with all those who in the face of these attacks have fearlessly taken action to confront white supremacy.
As someone who has been threatened with physical violence and has watched the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses in front of our strike headquarters, we are no stranger to this type of racial violence. We have seen this violence from farmers who seek to stop the progress that we have made and return the institutions of slavery and share cropping to the South and Midwest. We have seen this violence from local police who target our people and collaborate with ICE to tear apart our families. We have seen this violence from the NC state legislature, most recently with Farm Bill, SB 615, a targeted attack against our union and farmworkers who are fighting to improve their working conditions. And we have seen this violence from our president whose words and policies have not only directly hurt us but have also emboldened neo-Nazi and other white supremacist organizations to commit acts of terror.
Racism hurts us all and seeks to divide us as a people. Those who dismantle the structures and institutions of racism should be celebrated not criminalized. On Monday night, Takiyah Thompson removed the Confederate monument in Durham, NC that has for too long sent the wrong message about who we are as a nation. We applaud her actions and encourage everyone to commit to organizing and building unions and strong peoples organizations to challenge the systemic inequities in our daily lives.
In the words of Heather Heyer who died while fighting for what she believed in, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” FLOC is paying attention, and we remain committed to continuing the fight for racial and economic justice for all people.
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!
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:
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.
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
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 email@example.com.
Compensation: Position details, including location, schedule, full/part-time status are negotiable. Additional information can be provided after discussion of the position details.