November 8, 2019
“Workers are no one’s property, they are human beings.”
Over the last several weeks, delegations of farm workers and community supporters delivered written notices to employers in support of Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) members calling for an end to abuses and corruption in their workplace. They are demanding that the farms recognize their union and negotiate to end wage theft, abuse, and intimidation they have suffered at the hands of corrupt farm labor contractor (FLC) Salvador Barajas.
Salvador Barajas, the FLC on these farms, has stolen workers’ wages and put workers’ health at risk through dilapidated housing and by forcing them to purchase unsanitary and inhumane meals at illegal prices.
Growers frequently outsource the recruitment and management of farm workers to FLCs because the costs of hiring workers directly, paying good wages, maintaining proper housing, and ensuring compliance with laws and benefits in a union contract cost money. FLCs save money by stealing from workers and not complying with the law, using threats and intimidation to keep workers quiet. FLOC has been informing the tobacco industry about these types of abuses by H2ALCs for years, but continue to meet with inaction.
The dispute heated up recently when one of the growers, Greenleaf Nursery, called the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office out to the farm to intimidate its workers and their union.
From the Rocky Mount Telegram:
Pickets from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO — FLOC — and the National Farm Worker Ministry were set up Wednesday on Chinquapin Road, which runs through the middle of the Oklahoma-based company’s 209-acre property covered with dozens and dozens of greenhouses.
They were picketing what they claim to be Greenleaf’s use of the Edgecombe County legal system on Oct. 25 in an effort to intimidate FLOC to the point they stop organizing efforts and workers to the point they are afraid to listen to FLOC’s message.
FLOC Vice President Justin Flores told the Telegram that four FLOC organizers went to speak to Greenleaf employees about their rights as they were leaving work on Oct. 25. Flores said the organizers claim they were threatened (by Greenleaf representatives) and told they could not be anywhere on company property, so they moved to the public roadway outside the parking lot and gave flyers to workers leaving the lot.
At that point, Flores said, a female Greenleaf manager, since identified as Kim Johnson, called the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office.
“They (Greenleaf) are using the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office to do their dirty work,” Zavala said. “It is up to the Sheriff’s Office to either be complicit or do what is right.
“It worries us that workers are being prohibited from learning about their rights,” Zavala said. “No company should limit who you can talk to. Those days have ended. Workers are no one’s property, they are human beings. The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office has a decision to make: will they be complicit in harassing and prohibiting workers from defending their rights or will they defend and protect the people?”Source: Rocky Mount Telegram