On September 10th, Baldemar Velasquez was re-elected as President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee at the 14th Constitutional Convention. With 197 delegates, including over 100 farm workers from North Carolina and Virginia and almost 100 migrant workers bused in from North Carolina, Velasquez was overwhelmingly voted in with over 86% of the votes cast for a four-year term.
President Velasquez started FLOC at only 20 years old in 1967 with the mission to bring justice to farmworkers. Since then, he has upended the agricultural industry by creating independent frameworks to guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining for farmworkers. Still, the fight continues. At the Convention, FLOC reaffirmed its support of undocumented workers and immigration reform. President Velasquez and union members also emphasized the need to support small family farms, who struggle against large corporations exploiting farmworkers and small farmers for their profit margins.
When asked about his upcoming term, President Velasquez underlines the need to keep expanding and to keep achieving agreements that create independent mechanisms for union representation with large corporations, namely British American Tobacco (BAT). Coming to an agreement with BAT is critical because tobacco farms throughout North Carolina and Virginia are highly diversified and grow many other crops, meaning that not only would tobacco farmworkers gain representation, but agreements would apply to all crops harvested by workers. President Velasquez’s next term will build upon the historic successes in the past, while also ensuring that FLOC is sustainable and growing in the future.