NFWM Endorses FLOC’s Boycott of Reynolds American VUSE

On January 27, 2018, the NFWM Board of Directors voted to endorse the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s (FLOC) boycott of Reynolds American VUSE e-cigarette. The board committed the resources of NFWM to supporting FLOC until farm workers in the tobacco supply chain have a voice in the work place without fear of retaliation.

Read the Resolution of the National Farm Worker Ministry Endorsing the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) Boycott of VUSE E-cigarettes, a product of British American Tobacco and Reynolds American.

NFWM has sent a letter to Ricardo Oberlander, Reynolds CEO, and Nicandro Durante, Chief Executive of British American Tobacco, parent company of Reynolds since 2017, informing them of the boycott endorsement. That letter states, in part,

“Now is the time for Reynolds American to sign a negotiated agreement with FLOC that will guarantee freedom of association and provide a practical mechanism for addressing worker grievances.  This is the best way for British American Tobacco and Reynolds American, its subsidiary, to comply with your stated Principles of Good Corporate Conduct. It is also the best way to improve the living and working conditions of tobacco farm workers in your supply chain.”

Read the 2/26/18 Letter to Reynolds American/BAT


  • Background
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  • Consumer Actions Needed
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OCIC Spring Newsletter & Annual UFW Fundraiser

Orange County Interfaith Committee To Aid Farm Workers (OCIC) annual spring fundraiser for the United Farm Workers of America will be held Sunday, April 22nd. The event will be held at Teamsters Local 952 , 140 S Marks Way, Orange, CA.  The guest speaker will be Sonia Rodriguez. OCIC is a Member Organization of NFWM.

Read OCIC’s latest newsletter for more about their speak Sonia Rodriguez and other farm worker news.

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NFWM Supports Harvest Without Violence

At the January 2018 meeting, the NFWM board adopted a statement of support for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Harvest without Violence. This was requested by CIW in support of their Fair Food Program and it’s provision to eliminate violence and harassment.

NFWM will be supporting CIW’s efforts to eliminate violence against women and their ongoing work to expand the Fair Food Program and we are continuing our support of CIW’s boycott of Wendy’s, the last major fast food company not to sign on to the Fair Food Program.

Coming in March, farm workers will be in New York City for a 5 day Freedom Fast in front of the building where Nelson Peltz, chairman of Wendy’s board of directors, works. NFWM’s executive director, Julie Taylor, will be in NYC to support those fasting and will participate with others in a march for farm worker rights on March 15th. For more about this, contact us or go to CIW’s website.

Photo illustration by Shawn Gust/Yakama Herald-Republic

While CIW has helped to bring the issue of violence against women to light, farm worker women around the country have been struggling with this reality too and other efforts are taking place. Time Magazine published an article last fall that included a letter in support of farm worker women who have far less recourse to complain or file grievances than women in Hollywood.

At the time that incidences of violence against women were emerging in the media, other groups were also discussing this. Rosalinda Guillen, of Community To Community (an ally organization with Familias Unidas por la Justicia) in Washington State did an NPR interview to discuss this. A focus on sexual harassment and violence was featured in both a Seattle Times Op Ed and the Yakima Herald this fall that shed light on the under-reporting and why farm worker women are reluctant to come forward.

Farm worker women deserve better.

NFWM is committed to the ongoing support of farm worker food certification programs, union representation, community training programs, along with grievance procedures that provide real consequences for perpetrators and protection of victims of harassment and violence.

Give Thanks to Farm Workers for our Food

To sustain us this Thanksgiving – A message from NFWM Executive Director Julie Taylor

So much is attached to this holiday – commercials, traditions, expectations. At the same time, many live with the challenges of loved ones no longer present or economic realities that make even basic food something wished for or a work requirement which means this holiday feels a lot like every other day.  As you pause around a meal, be it feast or something less, think of the farm workers who harvest these foods we eat.  If you gather with friends or family or both or none, give thanks for the hard working hands who picked the fruit and vegetables you eat this day and every day. Give thanks, friends. In the end, that is what this day is about, however overshadowed it is with other things.  Just give thanks, today and every day for food and friends and family and faith and farm workers.

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FLOC Sues North Carolina to Protect Farm Worker Rights

FLOC Vice-President Justin Flores announce filing of the lawsuit at a press conference on November 15th outside the NC Legislature Building.

As we reported to you earlier, in July the North Carolina Legislature passed and Gov. Roy Cooper signed S615, the Farm Act. S615 includes two terrible amendments, added at the last minute, which can only be seen as an assault on FLOC, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the gains the union has made organizing workers in NC. The amendments make it illegal for farmers, who have signed union agreements, to deduct dues from union members who want to pay those dues; and it makes it illegal for farm workers to ask growers to sign an agreement with their union as part of settling wage or other legal violations. NFWM immediately filed complaints of conflict of interest with the NC Legislative Ethics Committee against the two main movers of the amendments, both farmers.  After confidential hearings about which NFWM had no knowledge, the Ethics Committee dismissed NFWM’s complaints without recourse to challenge the dismissals.

“Politicians that are also growers shouldn’t pass self-serving laws simply because they don’t want their workers to unionize,” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez. “With the continuation of Jim Crow-era laws that aim to stop a now almost entirely Latino workforce from organizing, this is an affront to freedom of association and smacks of racism. Companies like Reynolds American should be embarrassed that growers in their supply chains are attacking the very farmworkers who make their companies’ wealth.”

Now FLOC is fighting back! On November 15th, FLOC and two farm workers filed a federal lawsuit challenging S615. Along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Law Offices of Robert J. Willis, they are arguing that it impedes farm workers’ First Amendment right to participate in unions, and asserts that the law is discriminatory, as more than 90 percent of the state’s agricultural workers are Latino. They are also asking the court to grant preliminary and permanent injunctions, restraining state officials from enforcing the law.

More than 100,000 farmworkers provide labor to North Carolina farms, helping to generate more than $12 billion for the state economy. The vast majority are Latinos and work seasonally, many under temporary H2A visas.

“Farmworkers provide indispensable labor to North Carolina’s economy,” said Kristi Graunke, senior supervising attorney at the SPLC. “In exchange for their sacrifices and hard work, the legislature has repaid them with suppression of their constitutional rights. They deserve fair compensation, humane working conditions, and the ability to remedy grievances through collective bargaining. This law swings open the door for worker abuse on every farm across the state.”

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