Labor Allies Pledge Support to NC Tobacco Farmworkers

On Saturday, June 8, 2013 FLOC hosted Camp Solidarity for delegates from various organizations and unions in North Carolina, including the N.C. AFL-CIO, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Alliance for Retired Americans, Amalgamated Transit Union, the Triangle CLC and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. These organizations have been strong FLOC allies in years past, and came to learn about the current struggles that farmworkers face in N.C. tobacco fields.

We were joined by Noe Lopez, who currently labors in the N.C. tobacco fields in Wayne County, who spoke about how difficult farm work is. “Providing for my family and being able to send my children to school makes it all worth it,” he said. The delegation later visited a labor camp in Harnett County and met with a group of farmworkers at a labor camp. Huddled around in the kitchen, the delegation listened to their personal stories of hardship and perseverance.

The group also traveled to Johnston County, where workers had already left for the store. Planning a scheduled delegation with farmworkers is difficult, as most do not have vehicles and have to rely on the person that provides transportation for personal errands like grocery shopping, sending money orders to family, and doing their laundry at the local laundromat.

“The tour was definitely eye opening for me; I felt that I was in a third-world country,” commented Heather McLaughlin of the N.C. Alliance for Retired Americans. “We can only hope that through education and perseverance, the inhumane conditions these workers live in can be acknowledged and change can occur.”

Many thanks to the NC AFL-CIO for putting this delegation together and standing in solidarity with farmworkers in this struggle!