When the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) held its 13th Convention in Toledo, OH on September 9th, the National Farm Worker Ministry was on hand to share the work and celebration with them. NFWM hosted it’s second board meeting of the year on September 8th so that it could give volunteer time to the convention and participate in “No More Charlottesvilles, a March for Immigrant Justice” with FLOC and the mayor of Toledo, Paula Hicks-Hudson.
Continuing its history of standing with farm worker organizing groups, NFWM recognized it’s own history with FLOC through the years and was asked to open the Convention by declaring the space a sanctuary space and offering a prayer for their work. This was led by past president and Sisters of Charity of Nazareth representative, Felix Garza with 15 member organizational representatives, a member at large, two young adults, two guests and three staff standing behind him (pictured above). Later in the day, NFWM’s Executive Director, Julie Taylor recognized all the board members present, the organizations they represent and locations. She shared with the union members that NFWM stands with the farm workers and affirmed our historic relationship as allies.
An important action taken by the FLOC union members in Toledo was to vote on a boycott of VUSE electronic cigarettes. While NFWM has not yet officially endorsed this boycott, our organization has a history of standing with the farm workers when they take on campaigns, protests and boycotts. More information will emerge about this and the efforts to put pressure on convenience stores which are the primary distributors of these tobacco products. Look for specific actions to take in the coming days. Here is more background on the tobacco campaign.
Sr. Mary Martens, representative of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary shared her thoughts on our time with FLOC,
“The relationships, stories and connections are always important to me at our meetings…Among the best events was our welcome of the ‘Homies’ at supper time. It took me back to my years of teaching high school and college students, seeing many of the same emerging leadership traits present in these young people…”
Mallory Daily who came as a Young Adult guest from the Loretto Community was moved by her experience.
“The experience of marching alongside farmworkers was one I won’t soon forget, and the conversations I had in my broken Spanish helped me understand their varying realities.”
While in Toledo, we met at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Catholic Church on Wednesday, September 6th to share about the Ministry and to hear about the Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network, one of our member organizations, from Fr. Dick Notter who is on their board and used to serve on NFWM’s board. Joined by sisters from the area and some of our own board members, the gathering took place in a church that features a mural of Our Mother of Guadalupe that was painted by the brother of Baldemar Velasquez.