FLOC Convention Resolves to Make Common Cause with Small Farmers
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Leaders of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee want to change the narrative about agriculture in America.
FLOC members who gathered in Toledo, Ohio, for FLOC's 14th quadrennial constitutional convention voted to re-elect President Baldemar Velasquez to a 14th term.
Nearly 200 delegates attended, and seasonal farm workers from North Carolina represented the largest contingent with 83 delegates voting.
Looking forward to the next four years of his term, Velasquez said one of the biggest priorities will be making common cause with family farmers.
"One of the resolutions we passed was to form an alliance between small family farmers and farm workers and negotiate up in the supply chain," said Velasquez, "creating pressure so we can create a sustainable pricing system to maintain those small family farms, so that we can preserve our jobs."
Velasquez said the narrative that pits farm workers against farmers must be changed to recognize that small farmers and farm workers have shared economic interests.
In the past, FLOC has negotiated agreements with the end users of farm produce - such as tomatoes for Campbell's soup and cucumbers for Vlasic pickles. Small farmers are typically at a disadvantage when negotiating annual contracts with produce buyers.
Velasquez said he believes farm workers extending their leverage to farmers is key to negotiations with manufactures and retailers.
"What I've learned in those supply-chain negotiations is that farmers are eager to participate," said Velasquez. "If you give them an opportunity to have some leverage, they'll set out what their costs are to the manufacturer and retailer."
The FLOC convention reaffirmed its commitment to defend undocumented people.
Velasquez said while the U.S. needs immigration reform, FLOC doesn't have to wait for that, and can advocate on behalf of undocumented workers.
"We've done many workers'-compensation cases for undocumented people because the workers' comp laws," said Velasquez, "whether it's Ohio or North Carolina or Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee - they're all different and none of them indicate undocumented workers don't have a right to claim benefits from their injury on the job under the state's insurance program."
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