October 11, 2007
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) came out victorious in their battle with Mt. Olive Pickle Company for union recognition a few years back. The result was a historic agreement between FLOC, Mt. Olive, and the NC Growers Association whose farmers employed the farm workers picking cucumbers for the company’s products.
This October 28, FLOC will launch a similar campaign for union recognition for farm workers that harvest the tobacco crops Reynolds American uses in the production of its products – only this time the stakes for the workers are much higher.
Tobacco harvesting is a toxic business for field workers. Imagine the hazards of daily contact with nicotine that is absorbed into your entire body. Nicotine is not only classified as one of the most toxic poisons, but it also raises the body temperature and increases a worker’s dehydration. In the past two years, six field workers have died in North Carolina tobacco fields, most of them due to heat stroke.
In addition, most of these farm workers suffer slave-like hardships:
- long hours of stoop labor in the fields
- harassment in their work
- abject poverty
- staggering debt
- exposure to lethal nicotine and pesticides
- poor health
- miserable housing in labor camps
- denial of basic labor and human rights protection
The most serious problem faced by tobacco field workers is that they have no voice in those conditions that impact on their lives. If they complain about mistreatment or their productivity declines from tobacco sickness, they can be fired without question.
Reynolds has refused to meet with farm worker representatives at FLOC. RJR may like the status quo, but tobacco farm workers want the respect and protections that can only come with a union contract.
Save the Date!
What: Rally and march on RJR headquarters in Winston-Salem
When: Sunday, October 28 at 3:00pm
Where: Rally at Lloyd Presbyterian Church, 748 Chestnut St, Winston-Salem, NC
The NC State AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with FLOC and tobacco farm workers in their demand for union recognition. You can too!