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La Liga de Las Americas

FLOC calls for action against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds

Worker leaders and pastors from more than a dozen churches in North Carolina gathered on Sept. 24, 2007, at Lloyd Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and called on R.J. Reynolds to meet with farmworker leaders to discuss their “horrendous” conditions, experienced by over 25,000 tobacco cutters in five southern states in the United States.

Farmworker leaders have quietly sought meetings with Reynolds American Inc, the parent company of R.J. Reynolds.  The company has declined to meet with them citing that they were not the employers of these workers.  

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s (FLOC’s), based in Toledo, Ohio, has a long history in these matters and has repeatedly exposed the vertical control such giant companies have over its procurement systems—FLOC has successfully bargained changes involving all parties in the supply chain, as exemplified in its successful campaigns against Campbell’s Soup and Mt. Olive Pickles.

C.E.O. of Reynolds American Inc., Susan Ivey, was listed number 42 by Forbes Magazine in ranking of the 100 most powerful women in the world.  

When confronted with this figure, FLOC president Baldemar Velásquez informed La Prensa, “In the end, it’s not how powerful you are; it’s how right you are. If the company refuses to meet with us, we’ll have to find another way to get their attention,” Velásquez stated.

During the event, FLOC is expected to call for another mobilization for Oct. 28, 2007, as it consults with worker leaders and church supporters.






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