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FLOC holds 12th Quadrennial Constitutional Convention in Durham, not Toledo


Durham, NC, October 12, 2013: About 400 farmworker delegates representing thousands of FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee) members from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio traveled to Durham to take part in FLOC’s National Constitutional Convention.


The decision to hold the Convention in North Carolina, rather than Toledo, Ohio, where it has been held since 1967, was noteworthy, as FLOC has spent six years pushing tobacco giant Reynolds American to guarantee labor rights and end labor abuses in the tobacco supply chain of the South.


According to FLOC’s press release, FLOC President Baldemar Velásquez stressed the need for continued organizing as the US South leads the country in sub-standard conditions and wages. In August, the State Legislature passed a bill that” attempts to ensure that farmworkers never attain labor rights, the right to organize, or freedom of association.”


In a unanimous vote, delegates passed a resolution to launch a massive organizing campaign next summer, with a goal of signing up 5,000 new farmworker members throughout North Carolina, strengthening the union and the movement to fight for fair treatment in the work place. Members also voted to continue the campaign to pressure major tobacco companies to guarantee labor rights in their supply chain.


Fifteen other resolutions passed including resolutions for increased wages, safe and healthy working conditions, and an end to family separation through deportation. “These 16 resolutions represent a lot of work ahead of us; they represent the demands of the farmworkers so I take them very seriously,” said Velásquez.


Guest speakers included AFGE President J David Cox, NC NAACP President Rev Dr. William J Barber, Rogel del Rosal Valladeres of the Red Campesina de Pequeños Productores, an organization of small growers in Mexico, Leonel Rivero, a human rights attorney, and Francisco Pablo Jiménez of MOCRI, a former political prisoner recently liberated after fighting contamination from mining companies in rural Mexico.


All delivered messages of solidarity to the farmworker struggle, and pledged their commitment to support next summer’s organizing drive. “The NC NAACP stands with the farmworkers and their union today and we will stand with the farmworkers next summer as you organize thousands of tobacco farmworkers throughout the state!” said Rev. Barber, as he was greeted with a standing ovation by FLOC members.


The urgent need for unity in the labor movement in the South and solidarity between black and brown workers was a common theme that ran throughout the convention. “They call people illegal and unauthorized. My bible tells me that the only thing unauthorized is the mistreatment of our fellow brothers and sisters” Said Rev. Barber.


Following the convention, hundreds of allies joined FLOC delegates for a march/rally in downtown Durham in support of humane immigration reform and labor rights in agriculture.


Rally speakers included Velásquez, CJ Stephens of SEANC, José Cisneros of Fuerza y Libertad, and Veronica Isabel Dahlberg, Executive Director of HOLA.


For video of the march, click here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6Cj_Z-6I2PmaHBfQ1pYOWFWQUE/edit?usp=sharing





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Revised: 10/22/13 06:23:48 -0700.




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