July 21, 2014- FLOC applauds the decision of the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA) to accept the resignation of Paul Saffle, the NCGA rep who punched FLOC organizer, Oscar Sanchez in plain view of farmworkers and their employer on July 10, 2014. While Saffle’s violent act was unpardonable and his dismissal deserved, it does not go far enough to address Saffle’s aggressive attitude that, for years went unchecked by the NCGA, nor does it address the broader culture of bullying common to agriculture.
FLOC is seeking remedy for the farmworkers involved in the incident, including a meeting between FLOC and the NCGA where a declaration of no retaliation for raising complaints with the employer is made.
Furthermore, FLOC seeks a guarantee that the farmworkers involved in the incident will be recruited to work in 2015, as long as they finish this season’s contract in good standing.
FLOC celebrates the courage of the worker who came forward to FLOC with the video footage of the incident, and denies the outrageous allegation of the NCGA that Oscar Sanchez was recruited by FLOC to instigate a premeditated and staged incident of which he was victim.
Finally, we renew our call to tobacco companies that buy tobacco in the region to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with FLOC that will create measurable standards to guarantee no retaliation and to address the intimidation of farmworkers of which Saffle’s belligerence was an unfortunate, but realistic demonstration. As long as grower representatives, growers, and labor contractors single out farmworkers who make complaints (or in this case, a simple request for food money) farmworkers will continue to be denied their human right to speak up without facing retaliation.