Defend Right of North Carolina Farm Workers to Organize

International Union and Foodworkers (IUF)

 Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)

farm workers nc

Following a series of recent farm worker wins in the Southern United States, farmers elected to the North Carolina State Legislature are trying to use their legislative power to stop workers on their own farms from organizing for better wages and working conditions.

On June 28, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Farm Bill S615 with no debate. The bill aims to stop the progress that farmworkers are achieving by making it illegal for farmers to deduct dues from union members as well as making it more difficult for farmworkers to win union contracts.

US farmworkers 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), farmworkers have won union contracts that include wage increases, job security, and improved working conditions. This bill aims to roll back this progress.

CLICK HERE to join FLOC and the IUF in calling on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to veto the bill. Your message will be sent by email to the Governor and delivered as part of a signed petition.

A LEGACY OF INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY

by Briosha Sanders

Bri-Sanders1-585x280I’d be lying if I told you that it never occurred to me to question the beauty of the countryside that I loved to explore as a young person of color in the South. Many people, like me, can’t help but admire stretches of crisp green plants that interchange with golden fields and eventually give way to pristine farm homes with freshly trimmed lawns. However, there is a deeply entrenched legacy of injustice and inequality that no amount of romanticizing or denial could remove from the reality of life in the country.  But people like to forget and forgetting is costly.

I’d seen third world poverty before when I worked with a nonprofit organization in Honduras in the summer of 2012, but I still felt shocked when I went out to the camps of the trabajadores with whom FLOC organizers work to build community power. It was shocking, I think, because for the first time I was faced with the harsh realization that there is a widespread human trafficking operation of cheap labor thriving in my back yard.

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End Human Rights Abuses in Tobacco Fields

While concern about tobacco use is often in the news, concern about tobacco farmworkers is not.  Yet sub-minimum wages, corrupt labor contractors, decrepit housing , and serious health risks, including that of death by heat stroke, are common for tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and the South. This is a tragedy and moral disgrace hidden from the eyes of most Americans. At the top of this exploitative labor system sit some of the world’s largest and most powerful tobacco companies, such as Reynolds American. 

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), which represents thousands of farmworkers in the Midwest and the Southeast, has sought to begin a dialogue with Reynolds American to end the human rights abuses in their supply chain.  But the company has refused to even meet with them.

Daniel M. Delen became the new CEO and President of Reynolds on 1st March. To tell Mr. Delen to work with FLOC to end human rights abuses in his company’s supply chain sign this petition.

Baldemar Velasquez: Farmworkers need labor law protections

by Baldemar Velasquez

Baldemar Velasquez

Baldemar Velasquez

A Call to Wage a National Campaign for Farmworker Labor Rights

I agreed to be one of the original sponsors of the call to build this movement – not a call for specific legislation, i.e. NLRA – but rather to confront the historical racism inherent in the first call for labor legislation in the 30’s.

At a time when most of the farm workers in the Deep South were Blacks, the Dixiecrats that controlled Congress would never see blacks on an equal  field as their counterparts in other industries.   Every reform that’s been debated since has excluded farm workers, including the current drive over the Employee Free Choice Act.   Continue reading