For 6 years, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) has been trying to get tobacco giant Reynolds American to use its power to initiate changes that will improve the lives of tobacco pickers. Reynolds American is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, manufacturing about one of every three cigarettes sold in the country. […]
Supporters of human rights and justice joined the National Farm Worker Ministry and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Friday May 7, 2010 where Reynolds Tobacco held its annual shareholders meeting.
More than 30 farm worker supporters gained access to the meeting by purchasing a share of the company’s stock or by representing someone, through a proxy, who owned one. These included several NFWM staff and Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) members from Florida.
Those inside used the question and answer period to create a dominating presence inside the meeting, giving voice to the real human rights situation for tobacco farm workers in the fields of North Carolina. At the conclusion of the meeting, Rev. Carlton Eversley, President of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem led the group out singing a civil-rights spiritual.
On Friday August 7th, the Board and Staff of the National Farm Worker Ministry were joined by NFWM supporters and clergy from North Carolina for a day of activities in support of farm workers who toil in tobacco fields, inclulding a moving service held at a tobacco field honoring the sacrifices of farm workers.
On May 6th, NFWM, FLOC, farm workers and other allies gathered in Winston Salem, NC for a day of actions during the annual shareholders meeting of Reynolds Tobacco (RAI). We were there to tell Reynolds’ management and shareholders that farm workers are stakeholders too!
The day began with a brief prayer service outside of Reynolds led by Kevin Todd, Duke Divinity Field Education Intern at NFWM NC. Together, they read the Litany, “Give us hope in a new day in which all women and men will know justice, peace, equality, and love; A new day when we will no longer need to gather to STRUGGLE for justice but will gather to CELEBRATE justice.”
The Annual Shareholders Meeting of Reynolds Tobacco (RAI) will be held on Wednesday, May 6 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As these decision-makers for Reynolds Tobacco meet, the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM), the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and farm worker supporters will be there to tell Reynolds’ management and shareholders that farm workers are stakeholders too!
JOIN US ON MAY 6TH. FLYER WITH MAP HERE.
For more information about the FLOC/Reynolds Tobacco Campaign, click here.
FLOC Reynolds Tobacco Campaign
Current Campaign News
RJR CEO Ivey earns $7.9 million in 2007 – a 24% increase – Forbes, March 24, 2008
In 2007, RJR’s parent company, Reynolds American reported earnings of $1.31 billion, or $4.43 per share. Revenue rose to $9.02 billion.
Nearly 400 FLOC supporters marched in NC, calling on RJ Reynolds to improve conditions in the tobacco fields – October 28, 2007
NFWM’s North Carolina staff provided significant logistical support in planning this successful event. Our director and two board members attended. NFWM is proud to stand with FLOC in this new campaign for farm worker justice in North Carolina. [Photos of event]
Farm union targets RJR -News & Observer, NC – October 27, 2007
Farm workers seek better conditions – Greensboro News Record, NC – October 29, 2007
Calls for Change: Demonstrators march to Reynolds American … – Winston-Salem Journal, NC – October 29, 2007
Tobacco workers urged to rally – Mount Airy News, NC – October 26, 2007
Union That Took On Mount Olive Turns Aim Toward Tobacco Workers – WITN TV – October 28, 2007
Blogs and Other Websites
Huffington Post: A Harvest of Shame Baldemar Velasquez | Posted October 25, 2007 | Politics
Join FLOC in Fighting for Justice for Tobacco Workers, James Parks, AFL-CIO blog October 25, 2007
Justice for Tobacco Workers – by Tula Connell, October 25, 2007
March on R. J. Reynolds for Union Recognition – October 11, 2007
An energetic rally on Monday, September 24, 2007 at Lloyd Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was the first event of FLOC’s new campaign. Workers, community members and people of faith came together from across the state to join the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s call on RJ Reynolds to address conditions in the tobacco fields of North Carolina. At the event Richard Kortiz spoke about RJ Reynolds tobacco plant workers’ organizing efforts in the 1940′s. More photos (video)
Background and History
FLOC Reynolds Tobacco Campaign
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, manufacturing about one of every three cigarettes sold in the country. In 2006 Reynolds American Inc. had sales in excess of $8.5 billion worldwide. While big tobacco makes billions, tobacco farmworkers live in poverty, face racism and harassment, nicotine poisoning, lethal pesticides, staggering deft, and have hardly any labor and human rights protections.
The tragedies which occur daily in the fields are due to industry-wide problems that need to be addressed by those who have control over the tobacco market— RJ Reynolds being at the top of this list. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is calling on RJ Reynolds to take responsibility for the oppressive conditions in which tobacco workers labor in North Carolina. Together with FLOC, RJ Reynolds can use its tremendous power to initiate changes that will improve the lives of growers and farm workers alike.
Despite several attempts by FLOC President Baldemar Velazquez and allies, Susan Ivey, CEO of RJ Reynolds, has refused to meet with him to discuss conditions for farmworkers in North Carolina’s tobacco fields.
GREEN TOBACCO SICKNESS:
Green tobacco sickness, commonly called “the green monster”, is simply nicotine poisoning. Tobacco workers come into daily contact with nicotine which is absorbed into their bodies as they pick the tobacco leaves. Nicotine is classified as one of the most toxic poisons resulting in weakness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal cramps, headache and difficulty breathing. Worse yet, it raises body temperature which increases dehydration an sickness from the intense
heat of the fields. An estimated 24% of workers have this illness each season, and workers average almost 2 days of illness for every 100 of work. Workers who complain of sickness have been sent home to Mexico.
FLOC Reynolds Tobacco Campaign
Send a letter to Reynolds American CEO Susan Ivey, asking her to meet with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to discuss ways to improve conditions for tobacco farm workers in North Carolina.
CLICK HERE to download a sample letter. Sign this letter and mail or fax it; or write your own letter and mail or fax it.
Thank you for taking action.
FLOC JP Morgan Chase Divestment Campaign
JPMorgan Chase is one of the lead banks in a consortium of lenders that provides $498 million in credit to Reynolds American, one of the largest tobacco corporations in the country. Reynolds is making billions while farmworkers continue to suffer serious human rights abuses in the tobacco fields.
- Make a pledge to close your Chase Bank accounts and/or Chase credit cards until Reynolds agrees to work with FLOC to find a solution to the abuses or until Chase severs financial ties with Reynolds. CLICK HERE to access the pledge form and to send an E-Fax to Chase.
- Don’t have a Chase Bank Account? You can still support the Divestment Campaign! Pledge not to bank or use a Chase Credit card!
- Organize a leafleting / bank manager action at your local Chase Bank branch. For the Chase Organizing Toolkit, CLICK HERE.