Senator Jackson silent on charges he stole thousands in wages, blacklisted farmworkers who complained of abuses
NC State AFL-CIO, Working America, and community allies joined FLOC and the National Farm Worker Ministry at the North Carolina legislative building this week for a press conference and petition delivery to demand that state Sen. Brent Jackson immediately repay stolen wages and reinstate seven workers blacklisted after speaking out against labor violations on his farm in Autryville, NC.
Despite the North Carolina General Assembly being in session on Thursday, Senator Jackson was nowhere to be seen when a group of about two dozen working people plus reporters paid his legislative office a visit to deliver 10,000 petition signatures. A request by one of his own constituents for a meeting with his office went ignored.
From coverage in the News & Observer:
Jackson, an Autryville Republican, owns Jackson Farming Co. in Sampson County. The protest was connected to a federal lawsuit brought by seven former workers from Mexico who worked on Jackson’s farm on H-2A agricultural visas. The lawsuit claims they were cheated out of money. Money was deducted for work-related travel, and one worker was fired after he complained about unfair wage deductions, the lawsuit said.
Justin Flores, vice president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, said the workers were “blackballed” and prevented from returning this year on worker visas. “We know this is retaliation for speaking out,” Flores said. The lawsuit claims Jackson violated state wage and hour laws and federal labor laws.
Jackson was not in his Senate office when the petition was delivered. Protesters left the building chanting, “Senator Jackson, pay your workers.”
Read more here: Labor dispute lands at NC senator’s door
Because all seven workers had to leave the United States when Jackson Farms retaliated against them by withdrawing its sponsorship of their visas, none were able to be present at the action, but the message of one worker, Valentin Alvarado Hernandez, was read at the press conference on his behalf:
“We only asked for what is ours and for what the law says: that we should get paid and that the supervisor stop abusing people. We don’t deserve to lose our jobs for speaking out.”