URGENT ACTION: FLOC Representative Assaulted, Grower Rep Sets Violent Precedent

On July 10, 2014, FLOC representative and “Respect, Recognition, Raise!” campaign leader Oscar Sanchez arrived to a farm, having taken FLOC members to a local food bank. Previously, Sanchez had met with the farmworkers who were exploring their options after a slow start to the season. Following this meeting, FLOC filed a request for a fund managed by FLOC and the North Carolina Growers Association to help workers survive when, due to weather, work is continually scarce. While the business of fund administration is one generally conducted by email, Sanchez arrived to the farm to find the Growers Association representative discussing the fund with workers. During this meeting, and in front of the farmworkers’ employer, the growers’ rep singled out farmworkers who had signed on to the request, seemingly to intimidate them. When Sanchez corrected a name mispronounced by the growers’ rep, he was told not to interrupt and keep quiet, even though Sanchez had every right to participate.

Without warning or instigation, and in front of farmworkers and their employer, the Growers’ rep crossed the 20 feet separating him from Sanchez and punched him in the face. See video of the assault here.

ACT NOW. Tell tobacco companies that their silence on the right for farmworkers to organize without retaliation in North Carolina has gone too long, and now, has resulted in a dangerous precedent of violence.

Since the June launch of the “Respect, Recognition, Raise!” campaign, hundreds of farmworkers have joined the fight for a pathway to union recognition and the right to collectively bargain for better living and work conditions. Many more, faced with intimidation (all too clearly shown in this video), are afraid to speak up where threats, and now violence, go unpunished.

Reynolds, British American Tobacco, Phillip Morris International, ALTRIA, Universal Leaf, Japan Tobacco International and other tobacco manufacturers have the power to change the culture of fear and intimidation in US tobacco!

SIGN THE URGENT ACTION. Call on tobacco manufacturers to end the belligerent state of fear and intimidation gripping North Carolina. STAND for a guarantee of safety & civility for farmworkers enjoying their right to bargain collectively.

The safety of thousands of farmworkers and 30 “Respect, Recognition, Raise!” organizers depend on your action!



Baldemar Velasquez


P.S FLOC welcomes Sanchez back to his work on RRR. Ningun Paso pa Atras! Not one step back!

*UPDATE* JULY 21, 2014*

On July 18, 2014, FLOC received notice from the NCGA about the resignation of the involved grower representative.  Click here for FLOC’s full response.