Help End Retaliation Against NC Farm Workers

Dear Colleagues and Friends of Farm Workers,

Farm workers in North Carolina, and their families in Mexico who depend on them, need your solidarity.  Please read and sign-on to the attached letter by Thursday, April 20th and let Big Tobacco know that we want retaliation against farm workers who stand up for their rights to STOP.

In 2015, 8 Mexican workers on a NC farm that supplies tobacco leaf to Alliance One International, were blacklisted (barred from future employment) by the Farm Labor Contractor (FLC) who brought them to the farm on guestworker visas.  The farm owner was refusing to pay the farm workers’ fairly earned wages. When, as a group, they complained, the FLC blacklisted them.

The Alliance One Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) Code requires that all Alliance One contract growers adhere to the Principle of Freedom of Association and collective bargaining.  Farm workers are not protected by US federal labor law if they seek to exercise their internationally recognized human right to freedom of association. However, they would be protected from retaliation on farms covered by the Alliance One ALP IF Alliance One actually implemented freedom of association on their contract farms.  The case of these 8 black listed farm workers illustrates the weakness of the Alliance One ALP.

Alliance One has the ethical and moral responsibility to make certain these farm workers rights are upheld.

Attached is the letter: “A Call by North Carolina Faith Leaders to Alliance One President Pieter Sikkel:  Ensure that the Eight FLOC Members are Removed from Farm Labor Contractor Jr Perez’s Black List.”  The letter also calls on Mr. Sikkel to take the right steps forward and enter into good faith negotiations with FLOC to implement Alliance One’s Agriculture Labor Practices so unjust blacklisting of workers doesn’t happen again.

We will deliver the letter with your sign-on to Mr. Sikkel the last week of April. Alliance One, headquartered in Morrisville, NC, is a leading leaf tobacco merchant serving the world’s largest cigarette manufacturers.  Alliance One has the power to affect change all along its supply chain.

These workers depend on doing farm labor in the US to support their families on the wages they earn working the fields of North Carolina. Blacklisting limits their employment opportunities and devastates families.  Blacklisting sows fear among other workers who see that the growers and the labor contractors are getting away with retaliation.

“Please, read the attached letter and sign-on TODAY, and no later than April 20th.

TO SIGN-ON:  Send the information below to NCFaithLettertoAllianceOne@nfwm.org
Name/Title
City/State
Church or Organization

Organizations listed for identification purposes only.


TEXT of Letter:

April 20, 2017

Mr. J. Pieter Sikkel, President and Chief Executive Officer
Alliance One International, Inc.
8001 Arial Center Parkway
Morrisville, NC 27560

Dear Mr. Sikkel,

We are religious leaders from many different faith traditions in North Carolina who share a common belief that all people, regardless of race, creed, country of origin or walk of life, are loved equally by God and deserve to be treated with justice and respect.  In this regard, the social teachings of our faith groups affirm the moral right of farm workers to freedom of association and to bargain collectively without fear of retaliation.

We are writing you out of particular concern for the continued blacklisting of eight tobacco farm workers in the Alliance One supply chain.  These men are all members of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) from rural Mexico. Cristian Raul Jaramillo Avalos, Saul Avalos Blanco, Cristobal Vazquez Chavarria, Jacobo Medrano Espinoza, Cesar Alejandro Sanchez Espinosa, Gustavo Medrano Avalos, Arturo Medrano Avalos, and Hernan Maimiliano Medrano Avalos are all being refused employment by Farm Labor Contractor Jr. Perez in retaliation for exercising their right to freedom of association.

In 2015 these eight FLOC members sought to obtain their fairly earned wages which were being withheld by the grower, Hudson Farms. For their action, they were retaliated against by Farm Labor Contractor Jr. Perez, who continues to deny them employment. These workers depend on doing farm labor in the US to support their families on the wages they earn working the fields of North Carolina. Blacklisting limits their employment opportunities and devastates families.  Further, blacklisting sows fear among other workers who see that the growers and the labor contractors are getting away with retaliation.

We understand that the Alliance One Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) Code requires that Alliance One leaf suppliers adhere to the Principle of Freedom of Association and collective bargaining. This is the case whether the workers are employed directly by the grower or through a farm labor contractor.  However, the case of the eight blacklisted workers is evidence that your ALP is not working.

In order to effectively address on-going grievances in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation, we call on Alliance One to work with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to create practical mechanisms to guarantee freedom of association. To accomplish that, we call on Alliance One to provide FLOC with grower contact information now confidential so that FLOC can determine if a grower is covered by the Alliance One ALP when workers bring forward problems, as the eight workers did.

Further, we call on Alliance One to require that Farm Labor Contractor Jr. Perez remove these eight FLOC members from his blacklist and give each of them a date of hire for the 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and the 2021 growing seasons in North Carolina.  Moreover, we call on Alliance One to require that Jr. Perez implement freedom of association and collective bargaining when contracting with growers covered by the Alliance One ALP.

It is in Alliance One’s power to take these steps so that unjust blacklisting, as well as other labor abuses, in your supply chain does not happen again.  We ask you to do what is right.

Faithfully,  [Signature Page Attached]

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NFWM’s Spring Newsletter

Here is NFWM’s Spring Newsletter.  Enjoy! Share!

NFWM Prayer & Actions for Farmworker Awareness Week

FARMWORKER AWARENESS WEEK is March 27-31!

This is a time of the year when we invite you to honor the legacy of Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement for justice and help raise awareness about the importance of farm workers and their labor to all of our lives every day.

During Farmworker Awareness week 2017, there are many opportunities to support farm workers and honor their work. Both CIW’s Return to Human Rights Tour and the UFW’s Cesar Chavez marches will be taking place during this time.

Additionally:

And we invite you to make this a daily prayer.

God of All Human Beings,

We pray for farm workers who toil in our fields and orchards and vineyards to harvest fruits and vegetables for our tables.

We thank farm workers for their hard work,
for their resilience,
for their expertise,
for their strength.

We are grateful for the food farm workers bring us to eat and the way these gifts nourish our bodies. We are grateful for the knowledge farm workers possess about land and plants and trees and flowers.

We thank farm workers for the ideas to keep up the pace of harvest, to bear heavy loads, to recognize dangers to food safety, to get the work done. We thank farm workers for patience with language and communication.

We are grateful for the love farm workers have for family and the way they talk about their hopes and dreams. We are grateful for farm worker smiles and laughter in the midst of dirt and toil. We thank farm workers for commitment to home, to children and parents. We thank farm workers for willingness to work hard and determination to be paid for it.

We pray for farm workers who toil in our fields and orchards and vineyards to harvest fruits and vegetables for our tables.

We ask that farm worker wages be generous and adequate and not be stolen. We pray that farm workers be treated with dignity and respect for the work they do and the knowledge they have. We ask that farm workers have clean, cool water to quench thirst and shade in which to get relief from the hot sun.

We pray that farm workers have decent housing and nourishing meals for rest and replenishment after work. We ask for safe practices to prevent exposure to pesticides, from spraying or drift or application. We pray for warm showers and good laundry facilities so that heads, hands, feet and clothes can be washed clean from chemicals and dirt and sweat following long, hard days.

We ask for freedom from harassment and sexual violence, especially for the women who do this work. We pray for safe transportation to and from the fields, to and from homes, to and from countries of origin. We ask for paths to citizenship for farm workers who have resided with us years and years and for any who want to come here.

We pray for farm workers who wish to travel to and from home countries as seasonal workers, and ask for documents that remove stigma and fear of status in the US. We pray for comfort for farm workers who grieve and are homesick, for spiritual nurture to farm workers who seek it, for education opportunities for family members who travel in migrant streams.

We ask for all the things that we want for ourselves as human beings, O God.

And while we ask, we pray that you will give us the courage and resolve to stand WITH farm workers in their quest for dignity and justice.

Amen.

Download the prayer.

Julie Taylor, NFWM, to speak at March 24th Vigil for Human Rights

JOIN NFWM and farm worker allies around the country for the Return to Human Rights Tour. It is past time for Wendy’s to do the right thing!

NFWM Executive Director Julie Taylor will speak at the Vigil for Human Rights outside of Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, OH on March 24th.  Join Julie and NFWM on this National Day of Prayer and Fasting to call on Wendy’s to sign on to the Fair Food Program.  The next day will be a day of solidarity and teach-ins at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church in Columbus. Then on Sunday, March 26, they will hold the Parade for Human Rights ending on OSU’s campus.

As the Tour kicked off, NFWM sent a letter to Wendy’s CEO calling on him to meet with CIW and to sign on to the Fair Food Program.

And JOIN other NFWM supporters and CIW allies around the country as the Tour makes a stop in a city near you. NFWM supporters in St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville, Chapel Hill and more cities along the route are supporting CIW, the boycott and the Tour.

So far on the Tour, NFWM YAYA’s new Coordinator Dominique Aulisio helped kick off the tour by marching on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. on March 16th.

Rev. Joy Warren, left, with Nashville Fair Food – Feb 2017

Then on March 18th, NFWM Board member Rev. Joy Warren, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, spoke at the opening and closing of the Tour as it stopped in Nashville, TN. Nashville Fair Food hosted the CIW, and many Vanderbilt and Trevecca Nazarene students participated in the march to Wendy’s. Vanderbilt University includes an off-campus Wendy’s in its meal card program, and students are working to break those ties due to Wendy’s unwillingness to join the Fair Food Program. Rev. Warren added, ” I had the honor of accompanying Lupe from Immokalee and students from Vanderbilt and Trevecca Nazarene into the Wendy’s store to respectfully explain the reasons for the march happening on the sidewalk. While I do not wear a clergy collar on a daily basis, I wore one this day to let people know there are faith leaders who believe in justice work, who see the farm workers’ cause for lament, and who will stand in solidarity with them as they seek human rights. And pray for them.”

Then after stops heading north and stops in Ohio, CIW heads back to Florida for the March and Vigil for Human Rights at Publix and Wendy’s on March 29th in Tampa. JOIN Dominique Aulisio and a YAYA contingent for the final stop on the Tour in Tampa before the workers head back to Immokalee.

Be a part of this historic effort by participating in the Tour VISIT CIW’s Tour pages, by delivering a letter to the manager of your local Wendy’s and/or by praying every day for CIW and its allies.

The time has come for Wendy’s to join the other fast food companies and truly improve the lives of farm workers in their supply chain.

National Farm Worker Ministry Sends Letter to Wendy’s

National Farm Worker Ministry has sent a letter to Wendy’s President and CEO Todd Penegor, asking him to meet with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and urging Wendy’s to sign on to Fair Food Program.

In the letter, NFWM Executive Director Julie Taylor tells Mr. Penegor,  “This past June, NFWM endorsed CIW’s boycott of Wendy’s. I am attaching a copy of that resolution.  Since then we have been encouraging our supporters to also boycott Wendy’s and to present store managers with letters bearing that message.  Later this week, we will join with supporters across the country in participating in the CIW’s Return to Human Rights Tour.” Ms. Taylor ends the letter with this call, “For the sake of improving the lives of farm workers in the US and providing true quality assurance to your customers, please sign the Fair Food Agreement today.”

NFWM is proud to stand alongside the farm workers of CIW and we will continue our support until Wendy’s does the right thing!

Click here to visit NFWM’s Wendy’s boycott page.

Contact us

National Farm Worker Ministry
P.O. Box 10645
112 Cox Ave., Suite 208
Raleigh, NC 27605
Email us here
919-807-8707 (office)