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Letter to the Editor from FLOC:

144
Powerful interests in México have instigated the filing of a complaint in the Instituto Nacional de Migracion against Brendan Greene, Organizer for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC/AFL-CIO), for "human trafficking" and "participating in political activities."

This complaint is a thinly veiled attempt to stop the groundbreaking work FLOC is doing in México as part of its efforts to enforce the rights that Mexican migrant workers have obtained through FLOC's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with a large North Carolina agricultural employer association, the North Carolina Grower's Association, Inc. (NCGA), that obtains its workers exclusively with the assistance of Mexican recruiters.

The complaint alleges that Brendan Greene asked 3 individuals to pay him in order for Mr. Greene to process their work visas when those three came into FLOC's Monterrey office looking for employment.

The complaint also included a forged FLOC pamphlet that Mr. Greene allegedly distributed in which FLOC is alleged to have charged union dues in México in order to protect workers from Mexican businesses that "want to enslave workers and pay miserable wages"

In reality, the flyer that Mr. Greene and FLOC distributed offered and continues to offer FLOC's telephone numbers in Monterrey and the support of our casa de hospedaje to FLOC's members who have to wait to get their visas processed by the U.S. Consulate before they go on to work in North Carolina.

This complaint consists of patently fraudulent charges that appear designed to intimidate and question the legitimacy of FLOC's activities in México on behalf of the Mexican workers who are employed in North Carolina by the NCGA pursuant to the CBA contract that FLOC negotiated with the NCGA.

FLOC has absolutely no interest in organizing any union for any employee of a business located in México. The sole purpose of the FLOC office Monterrey is to assist, educate, and inform Mexican H2A workers employed by the NCGA with respect to their rights under the CBA. Those rights include hiring in México without discrimination and according to the seniority system specified in FLOC's CBA with the NCGA.

On September 16, 2004, FLOC won a groundbreaking agreement with NCGA that granted these and other protections to the more than 7500 temporary guest workers that labor in the fields of North Carolina with the NCGA.

The present charges against Mr. Greene appear to suggest that there are powerful interests in México who are completely hostile to FLOC's and Mr. Greene's work to ensure that the non-discrimination and seniority hiring rights of the CBA are enforced. Unfortunately, it appears that this is hostility to FLOC's vigorous enforcement of the CBA rights of H2A Mexican workers against discrimination and for seniority hiring is likely to result in more attacks against FLOC and FLOC staff members like Mr. Greene for the work that they do in México. Without that work, the rights of H2A Mexican employees of the NCGA to non-discrimination and seniority hiring in North Carolina under the CBA that those H2A Mexican workers have with the NCGA would quickly disappear.

FLOC had hoped that the complaint against Mr. Greene by the Instituto would be terminated without any further processing. However, at the present time, Mr. Greene has been notified that there will be a 15 day investigation into the validity of these charges.

To date, he has not been provided with the original or a copy of the 30-page written statement of the charges against him or any other written document that purports to identify the witnesses or evidence against him with respect to the "trafficking" and other charges against him.

This fundamental failure cannot be under-emphasized as the charges against Mr. Greene could be converted into a penal case. In order to prevent Mr. Greene's physical detention FLOC has been forced to both retain the services of a Mexican attorney and to pay an "amparo" (the quasi-equivalent of a bond under U.S. law) of several thousand dollars.

This is the first labor agreement to gain representation for temporary guest workers in the history of both the United States and México and we must make sure that it survives to serve as an example for both Mexican workers in the United States and H2A employers other than the NCGA both inside and outside of North Carolina of how a guest worker program should be and can be run, with labor protections and voz y voto para los trabajadores!

Without the active work of FLOC employees like Brendan and the courage of H2A workers in México who continue to protest against the violation in México of their rights against discrimination and seniority hiring under the CBA, this effort will not succeed.

We are asking that you to contribute to those efforts by:

1.Contributing whatever funds you can to F.L.R.P./México Defense Fund to pay for legal expenses necessary to defend Mr. Greene and other FLOC staff or members like him. Please send any funds to: Farm Labor Research Project Inc. 1221 Broadway, Toledo, Ohio 43609 (A tax-deductible 501 (c)(3) charity).

2.Authorizing the listing of your name or your organization's name to a petition to the Instituto to terminate the deportation proceedings against Brendan Greene. Please direct your authorizing e-mail or correspondence to: Jerry Ceille at [email protected] or FLOC 1221 Broadway, Toledo, Ohio 43509.

3.Indicating whether you have any interest in being a member in the National FLOC/México Legal Defense Committee to develop activities or other actions in support of FLOC, Mr. Greene, and FLOC staff or members like Mr. Greene. Please direct your e-mail or correspondence expressing any such interest to: Baldemar Velasquez at FLOC 1221 Broadway, Toledo, Ohio 43609 or [email protected]


 

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