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Anti-Union Bill S615 Attacks Farmworkers Right to Organize

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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.

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!

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

People’s Climate Movement

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On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, FLOC will be traveling from NC to DC to march in resistance to the attacks on our communities and planet. Attacks on the environment are attacks on the labor force! Join us on April 29th. For more details or to reserve a spot on the bus, call our NC office 919-731-4433.

 

More details on the march here!

 

 

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Members discuss issues with local sheriff

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On Sunday April 2, 2017, FLOC members met with the Sheriff and Captain of the Wayne County Sheriff Office to discuss how to begin building trust between the Latino community and local law enforcement. Given the current political climate and recent attacks on immigrant communities, it is increasingly difficult for communities of color to trust law enforcement agencies to serve out their function of protecting the people. In the meeting, members spoke directly with Sheriff Pierce about issues including racial profiling as well as presented suggestions for the Sheriff’s department on how they can earn the community’s trust.

 “It’s very important for you as the community to feel comfortable with the Sheriff’s office so that we can communicate together and that you are not afraid to come to us when a crime is committed.” – Sheriff Piece

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FLOC will keep working to ensure that police agencies in the region:

  1. Do not target undocumented workers for tickets: In North Carolina, undocumented people are barred from having NC drivers’ licenses. This discrimination means that undocumented people and their children are unable to fully participate in community activities, and that every time they must drive they do so at the risk of being ticketed and fined for not having a driver’s license. These tickets cost about the equivalent of a farmworker’s weekly wages. We oppose random traffic stops, targeted checkpoints, and the running license plates that targets immigrant families.
  1. Stop collaborating with ICE. While local police departments function separately from ICE, collaboration between the two agencies has created fear in the immigrant community that discourages people from reporting crimes. To build trust, it will be necessary for local law enforcement agencies to focus on protecting the community, not serving out the mission of a separate governmental agency.

This meeting marked the beginning of a process in which members of the community will gain a greater voice in how they want the police to serve and protect them. The next NC Associate Members Meeting is Sunday April 23, 3-5PM. For more information on how to get involved in the campaign, call our NC office 919-731-4433.

Click here to read more about our efforts to change police policy in Ohio!

El pasado Domingo abril del 2017, miembros de FLOC se reunieron con el Sheriff y Capitán del departamento de policía del condado de Wayne para discutir un plan de cómo crear un lazo de confianza entre la comunidad y la policía local. Dada la situación política y los recientes ataques en contra de la comunidad inmigrante, es cada vez más difícil para las comunidades de color confiar en las agencias judiciales para que cumplan sus funciones de proteger a la comunidad. En la reunión, los miembros hablaron directamente con Sheriff Pierce sobre temas como la perfilación racial, así como presentar sugerencias al departamento de policía de cómo se podrían ganar la confianza de la comunidad.

“Es muy importante para ustedes como comunidad que se sientan cómodos de acercarse a la policía, o no tener miedo y comunicarnos sobre cualquier crimen del cual hayan sido víctimas”- Sheriff Pierce

FLOC va a seguir trabajando para que las agencias judiciales en la region:

  1. No tomen como blanco a la comunidad indocumentada para los tickets: En Carolina del Norte, a las personas indocumentadas se les niega el derecho a adquirir una licencia de conducir. Esta manera de discriminar significa que toda persona indocumentada y sus familias son incapaces de participar plenamente en actividades comunitarias, y que cada vez que tienen que conducir lo hacen bajo el riesgo de ser detenidos y multados por no contar con dicha licencia de conducir. Estas multas son el equivalente al salario promedio de una semana de un trabajador agrícola. Estamos en contra de las paradas sin razon evidente, los retenes que toman como blanco a la comunidad inmigrante y de correr información de placas de familias inmigrantes.
  1. No colaboren con ICE. Si bien los departamentos de policía local operan independientes a ICE, la colaboración entre ambas agencias ha sembrado temor dentro de la comunidad inmigrante y los desalienta a reportar crímenes. Para restablecer la confianza con la comunidad, será necesario que las agencias locales de policía se concentren en proteger a la comunidad, sin cumplir la misión de una agencia gubernamental separada.

Esta reunión marcó el inicio a un proceso en el cual los miembros de la comunidad tendrán una voz más fuerte para expresar en como desean que la policía los sirva y los proteja. La próxima reunión comunitaria se llevará a cabo el próximo Domingo 23 de abril a las 3:00pm. Para más información favor de comunicarse al 919-731-4433.

Pon clic aqui para leer mas información de los esfuerzos de cambiar las políticas de la policía en Ohio!

 

“We are the strength of the union”

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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!

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