Effort will confront Reynolds American’s failure to guarantee basic labor rights
April 29, 2014
DUDLEY, NC – Today, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) announced a multinational campaign to give a voice and much needed rights to thousands of farm workers in North Carolina through actions in London, UK, Washington, DC, and North Carolina targeted at Reynolds American and British American Tobacco. Many farm workers often live in labor camps with inadequate or non-functioning toilets and showers and other substandard conditions, suffer from illnesses resulting from nicotine poisoning and exposure to dangerous pesticides and work long hours for below poverty wages.
“This campaign will ensure Reynolds American takes real action to give American farmworkers the voice they deserve,” said Baldemar Velasquez, FLOC President and former farmworker. “Reynolds American has thrown up a variety of smokescreens to distract from their poor labor record, but every attempt is a cosmetic solution that ignores the real issue: worker representation.”
The Sign-up campaign targeted at 5,000 farmworkers, called “Respect, Recognition, Raise!”, will highlight farmworker demands for dignified working conditions and adequate housing, recognition of the right to join a union and negotiate with their employer for fair terms, and the raising of wages to an equal and fair wage for all workers.
The campaign will run from April 30– September and include the following events:
1) British American Tobacco Meeting, London, UK – April 30: FLOC President Velasquez with the support of the IUF, UNITE, and the AFL-CIO, will address shareholders of Reynolds’ largest shareholder, British American Tobacco in London. Velasquez is supported by 41 members of British parliament.
2) Reynolds American Shareholder Meeting, Winston Salem, NC – May 8: Over 50 FLOC supporters, including NAACP and Moral Monday’s leader Reverend Barber, will raise questions to RAI CEO Daniel Delen about his failure to guarantee freedom of association. Hundreds of FLOC supporters and farmworker members will be in attendance outside the meeting.
3) Organizing Drive, North Carolina – Late June- mid August: 5,000 farmworkers will be given the opportunity to sign cards in support of joining a union.
4) Visit Labor Camps – July 25-30: British parliamentarians James Sheridan and Ian Lavery as well as US Congressmen Marcy Kaptur(D-OH) will partake in a FLOC delegation, visiting labor camps in North Carolina.
ABOUT FLOC: FLOC was founded in 1967. Since its inception FLOC successfully organized the supply chain of various Ohio-based manufacturers, including Campbell’s Soup Company, Heinz, and Dean Foods. Its current agreement with the North Carolina Grower’s Association was won in 2004 through the Mt. Olive Pickle boycott. For more information on tobacco farmworker conditions, see Oxfam-FLOC report “State of Fear” or www.floc.com.