Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).
Name of Union: Farm Labor Organizing Committee
Mission: To challenge the deplorable conditions of the broader workforce that remains voiceless, powerless and invisible to mainstream America by giving farm workers a voice in the decisions that affect them and bringing all parties to the table to address industry-wide problems.
Current Leadership of Union: Baldemar Velasquez is the founder and president of FLOC. Justin Flores serves as vice president and Christiana Wagner serves as secretary-treasurer.
Members Work As: Farm workers.
Industries Represented: Agriculture throughout the United States.
History: Baldemar Velasquez and a small group of migrant farm workers in northwest Ohio came together in the mid-1960s and FLOC was formally established in 1967. In the ensuing years, FLOC expanded its membership beyond Ohio, organizing thousands of new members.
After successfully leading a strike in Ohio in 1978, the largest agricultural work stoppage ever in the Midwest, FLOC held its first constitutional convention as a labor union. They began a boycott of Campbell's Soup that year, and in 1983, Velasquez led a 600-mile march as part of the boycott. After eight years of the Campbell's fight, FLOC successfully negotiated the first tri-party agricultural contract between the workers, the company and the growers associations. The success of the Campbell's boycott led to improvements in working conditions, wages and benefits and the end of exploitative sharecropping arrangements at Heinz and other food-processing corporations in the Midwest.
In the 1990s, FLOC began organizing farm workers in the South. Thousands of farm workers were organized during a five-year boycott of Mt. Olive Pickles that led to a 2003 contract with the farm workers, Mt. Olive and the North Carolina Growers Association. These contracts changed the way the agricultural system works and brought H-2A guest workers under union contracts for the first time. Today, FLOC is working to organize tens of thousands of tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and throughout the South.
Current Campaigns: The Reynolds campaign calls upon tobacco company R.J. Reynolds to create a written agreement guaranteeing the collective bargaining rights of farm workers and calls for a boycott of Reynold's e-cigarette brand VUSE. FLOC focuses on organizing efforts in the Midwest, the South and Mexico.
Community Efforts: We Are FLOC compiles the stories of how FLOC has affected the lives of farm workers. The FLOC Homies Union provides a democratic, unified collective voice for the Latino community in Toledo, Ohio. The Black/Brown Unity Coalition works to empower black and brown communities.