Signing Ceremony Celebrating New CBA!

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), with support from the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice, just concluded a two-year organizing campaign resulting in a collective bargaining agreement covering workers at an agricultural packing shed at Battleboro Produce in Rocky Mount, North Carolina! This is an unprecedented win for immigrant workers in the deep South. At a signing ceremony on Monday, January 30th, workers, organizers, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez and director of Battleboro Produce Joel Boseman came together to celebrate and sign the collective bargaining agreement.

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee is both a community and labor union and is the only farmworker union in North Carolina and the deep South. Oftentimes in rural communities there is overlap between workers in the fields and those in the packing shed, with majority of packing shed workers being women. FLOC has had a union agreement covering farmworkers who harvest the produce that ends up at Battleboro Produce, and two years ago organizers began meeting with the workers in the packing operations.

“We will work together so we can both achieve something better. Us with the union and the union
with us!”- Ana Lilia, the new union representative at Battleboro Produce

The union agreement will result in wage increases of 8%, guarantees overtime pay, paid leave for union business, bereavement pay and more.

At the signing ceremony workers came together to usher in the era of collective action. New members received their ID union cards, met with FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez and were introduced to their new union representative Ana Lilia. Ana Lilia has been working at the packing shed for 10 years and her day consists of sorting and packing sweet potatoes that will be shipped out across the United States and into the European market. Throughout the years, she has become an informal representative for her colleagues, they go to her when they have issues, and she helps mediate any friction there may be with supervisors. “I don’t like it when a colleague isn’t being helped. I like to assist, and I believe that the
union is giving that a sense of importance because we are going to have more support from them.” Having never been part of a union before, either in the United States or Mexico, Ana Lilia shared that she came on board because it seemed obvious, there was a lot of support the union could offer.