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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!
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.
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!