“We are responsible from this moment forward, we are the voice of the union!”
This past weekend, we met in Mexico City where over 15 H2A workers and staff came together to form our 2023 Union Advisory Committee. The committee’s role is to advise the union leadership on what is happening on the ground, to organize their colleagues in the fields, to share the role of the union, and to help lead FLOC protests and actions.
The weekend started with an overview of FLOC’s history. It is important to understand the foundation of the cause and the inner workings of the union, and how this influences our organizing today. We are and will always be a community union, dependent on our associate members to organize while union workers are not in the United States. We are here today because of the sacrifices people made in the past. After this discussion, we recapped the 2022 Constitutional Convention and gave a brief overview of the 2024 Convention where union members will vote on a new constitution.
To build a better picture of what the union is up against, organizers and FLOC leadership gave a situational analysis of the biggest threat to the union: the loss of family farms and the rise of corporate farming. We are seeing season after season a large decrease in the number of workers growers are requesting due to global competition, resulting in less union jobs and more informal, exploitative labor practices. We have already lost over 20 growers this season, meaning over 200+ jobs. FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez led a discussion with members on the need to have a global approach to the union’s work, as the loss of agricultural jobs in the United States means large corporations are simply moving their exploitative labor practices to other countries where workers have even less protection. FLOC knows no borders, only justice, and we will advocate and include our brothers and sisters who work in the fields around the world in our fight.
We ended the meetings with a call to action. Members strategized on how we can, hand in hand, increase our on the ground support for our campaign against Reynolds American Tobacco and the protection of small family farms and union jobs. We began laying the groundwork for an ambitious protest in the Fall, calling on members and small family farmers to join forces to save small farms and union jobs. Members discussed barriers to attend protests and indicated one by one how many people they could personally commit to come out and participate in the protest. With just the people in the room, we had over 130 commitments.
At the end of the meeting, we all returned home encouraged and with high morale, because we are part of a movement, decades long, that is part of a heritage that we will leave to future generations. We leave with many thoughts, reflecting on our ideas and how we will achieve all the goals we have set.
To end the meeting, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez urged workers saying,