FLOC Leadership

Baldemar Velasquez
President and Founder


DSC_0597 (2)Born in 1947, Baldemar grew up in a migrant farmworker family based in the Rio Grande valley of Texas. Every year, his family would migrate to the Midwest and other regions to work in the fields planting, weeding, and harvesting crops like pickles, tomatoes, sugar beets, and berries. They traveled in trucks and old cars, and often lived in barns and converted chicken coops. The family eventually settled in Ohio, and Baldemar worked in the fields seasonally through his high school years to help support the family. In 1969 he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, graduating from Bluffton College with a BA in Sociology.

Incensed by the injustices suffered by his family and other farmworkers, Baldemar founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967. Under his leadership FLOC has set international precedents in labor history, including being the first union to negotiate multi-party collective bargaining agreements, and the first to represent H2A international guestworkers under a labor agreement.  Baldemar is an internationally recognized leader in the farmwoker and immigrants rights movements. His commitment to justice and human dignity have led to recognition by many labor, government, academic, and progressive organizations, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (Genius Grant), a Development of People Award by the Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Catholic Conference, an Aguila Azteca Award by the Government of México, and several Honorary Doctorates from Bowling Green State University, Bluffton University, and University of Toledo. In 2009 Baldemar was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

In 2008, President Velasquez spent a week working in the tobacco fields of North Carolina. You can read his daily journal about the experience here.

To learn more about Baldemar Velasquez, the Farm  Labor Organizing Committee’s story, and current fight for farm workers, watch his interview with Bill Moyers:

Christiana Wagner
Secretary Treasurer

Christiana Wagner Bio Pic

Christiana was born in 1979 to Baldemar and Sara Velasquez in Toledo, Ohio. She grew up marching on picket lines and organizing in the farmworker community alongside her parents. After high school she began working for FLOC as a Special Projects Coordinator, working on organizational management and administration. Today she is married and has two beautiful children. She diligently works overseeing, with a team of equally passionate and dedicated staff, on the accounting/HR, Media Team, event coordinating, and managing our Homies program in our sister organization CMWJ with consistent attendance and content value. Her favorite work is talking with the community and collaborating to be better, together. She has been speaking about farmworker issues and FLOC’s organizing work since she can remember following in her fathers footsteps with matching boldness, tenacity, and stubborness. In 2010 she was elected to FLOC’s board of directors, and then elected as Secretary-Treasurer in 2015. She continues her work with dedication and excitement for the movement. Christiana has a true heart for farmworker justice, and brings integrity, transparency, and passion to the organization.

Cruz Diaz Montalvo
Vice President

Cruz was born on May 3rd, 1959, in Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. He has a high school education and began his working life at eighteen years old cutting sugar cane; and later he registered in the Mexican army where he formed his hard-working and disciplined character, and upon requesting voluntary leave was transferred to Mexico City to work as a supervisor in a company which produced agrochemicals. He formed part of a timber group FIBRACEL, he also worked for BIMBO in security and distribution of metals which they used within the company. In 1990 when he was 30 years old he arrived in the United States with an H2A visa as a farmworker in North Carolina, he has completed 31 seasons of work. He has plenty of experience in cutting and harvesting different crops such as tobacco, squash, cucumber, peppers, and pine trees, he also has 22 years of experience operating tobacco cutting machines and tractors for applying pesticides and fertilizers. He has always been a worker who looks out for the labor and human rights of his coworkers. In 2004 when the contract with the NCGA was formalized he joined the union; he has participated in conventions and marches promoting workers rights and immigration reform. He was present for the opening of the offices in Monterrey, he has helped to organize regional meetings in Ciudad del Maiz, Tamazunchale, Tampamolon all of which are in San Luis Potosi. Upon finishing the growing season he returns to Mexico to work planting fruit trees and also welding vehicles. In September 2022 in the FLOC convention in Toledo, OH, Cruz Diaz was elected by majority vote of affiliated members Vice President of the union. Santiago is a living example of hard work, solidarity, humanism and social awareness. 

Santiago Ramírez Martínez

Member at Large

Santiago was born on May 23rd, 1973, in San Pablo Oxtotipan, in the county of Alfajayucan, Hidalgo, Mexico. The son of farm workers, from the age of 8 he began working in the fields with his family helping with the work of planting and harvesting, so from a young age he learned how hard life in the camps is. As he grew up with aspirations of having better living conditions for his family, he decided to immigrate to the United States. His first time crossing to work with an H2A visa was in 1998, and he now has worked more than 20 growing seasons in the fields of North Carolina, always fully completing his contracts, and almost half of his time as a seasonal worker he has been affiliated with the union. Our compañero is politically active in the town and county where he is from, tending to problems that his community faces and coming up with positive solutions, he is calm and one whom you could strike up a friendly conversation and always open to diverse opinions. Every year when he finishes the season abroad, he returns to harvest corn, and prepares the land for the following crop, work he combines with the production and selling of bread in his area. He has participated in different union events and activities such as meetings in the camps in North Carolina, the Constitutional Convention in Ohio, and regional meetings in Mexico. Santiago is a hard-working man with clear convictions like the thousands of workers who strive to bring up their families and with effort contribute to the economies of the United States and Mexico. He currently serves as an important member of the Executive board of the Union, elected by a majority vote of affiliated members.

Miguel Rizo Sr.

Member at Large

 He was born on September 21st , 1947, in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. He first came to Ohio in 1954 with his parents, who both worked in the fields. Miguel began working in the fields when he was 12 years old while also going to school. The Rizo family spent most of their time laboring in the tomato and cucumber harvests while in Ohio. At times they would also travel to the Traverse City area for the cherry harvests and Arkansas to pick cotton. On June 16th, 1966, Miguel began working at the Port of Toledo where he would work until his retirement. As a dockworker he was a longstanding member of the International Longshoremen’s Association and he held many positions in his career, spending most of his time operating the cranes and in-loaders. He was introduced to FLOC in the mid 1960’s when he stretched his time working both the fields and the Port of Toledo. FLOC came to where him and his family worked to fight for better conditions, and Miguel’s father Juan Rizo joined the union and eventually became a member of the Executive Board for many years to come. Miguel remembers being involved in the 1968 strike against Stokely Van Camp as some of the growers would not allow their workers to form a union. Miguel Rizo is a hard-working man who has devoted his life to his family and his community. He always greets one with a friendly smile and an eagerness to share his story and learn from others. During the fourteenth Constitutional Convention of FLOC, Miguel was elected as a member of the Executive Board, continuing the work of his father and bringing a wealth of experience to the movement for farmworkers’ rights. 

Sergio Sanchez

Member at Large

 My family and I moved to North Carolina around 1994 seeking a better life to escape gang violence, drugs, and other bad influences associated with the inner city neigborhoods of San Antonio, Texas. My parents believed we could start a better life by migrating to North Carolina. My father worked on a small family farm from the age of 7 helping his grandparents tend the fields and animals in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. My father crossed the border and worked in tobacco in the early 60’s and 70’s as a teenager and young adult in North Carolina. My mother was raised on a small family farm in Agua Blanca, Jalisco Mexico, where she worked in fields from the age of 6. Farm labor was something they were both familiar with when they decided to move to North Carolina. Since our arrival, I have worked alongside my parents helping them pick many crops including blueberries, strawberries, and cucumbers in the fields of eastern North Carolina. As I got older, in my teenage years, I worked during the summers suckering and harvesting tobacco as well as picking sweet potatoes, to help my family with some income. When I was around 15 I was introduced to FLOC through their organizing campaign against Mount Olive Pickle. I have boycotted, I have marched, I have organized, I have represented and continue to believe in the cause of self determination.