FLOC Organizer Punched: Tell Tobacco Firms to Curb Violence

Last week on a North Carolina tobacco farm, Oscar Sanchez, a Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) organizer and “Respect, Recognition, Raise” campaign leader, was punched in the face by a representative of the Growers Association during an outdoor meeting with workers.

Sanchez intervened to correct a name mispronounced by the representative, which precipitated a confrontation in which the representative walked over to and punched Sanchez in the face. The whole thing was caught on this video.

In a statement on the union’s website, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez says:

Since the June launch of the “Respect, Recognition, Raise” campaign, hundreds of farm workers have joined the fight for a pathway to union recognition and the right to collectively bargain for better living and work conditions. Many more, faced with intimidation (all too clearly shown in this video), are afraid to speak up where threats, and now violence, go unpunished.

The union has established a petition calling on Reynolds, British American Tobacco, and Phillip Morris International, which purchase most of the North Carolina tobacco under contract with the farms, to “take immediate action to guarantee the safety of farm workers organizing for union and collective bargaining rights.”

Click here to sign the petition and here to read more from Velasquez.