With FLOC’s help, Sweet Potato Farmworkers Win a Union Contract

by on December 15, 2016

In 2014, four members of FLOC courageously spoke out against issues at Burch Farms in Faison North Carolina, exposing violations that many of their coworkers were too afraid to speak about. They filed a lawsuit for multiple types of wage theft and other labor violations.  Last month, the FLOC members and their lawyer negotiated a settlement that included a payment of $7,125 for each plaintiff as well as $40 for each worker for each season that they had worked for Burch from 2012 to 2014.   In total, the grower agreed to pay over $200,000.

FLOC

As part of the settlement, the workers won a 3-year collective bargaining contract which includes: just-cause termination, a pay raise to $10.72, a mechanism to file grievances through FLOC, and the right to be a union member and collectively bargain. This contract was an incredibly important win for workers who were previously not covered by the FLOC-North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA) Union Contract.

FLOC has encountered a obstacle in buying enough shares of British American Tobacco to allow FLOC representatives to challenge BAT at its 2017 shareholders meeting ….. BUT ….. 2018 looks more promising.

FLOC’s Baldemar Velasquez had announced (at the recent TFF Benefit Dinner) that the $6K in contributions raised at last month’s TFF benefit for FLOC would go towards purchasing BAT shares. From the Nov-Dec TFF Update:

FLOC will be intensifying its engagement with BAT, and the $6K that TFF and its supporters/allies raised will go directly to the purchase of shares of BAT – allowing FLOC supporters and allies to challenge BAT at its upcoming shareholder meetings.”

However, FLOC’s Attempt to Purchase Shares this year are delayed. FLOC has found that its allies in the UK lack pension funds with the 40,000 BAT shares needed to file a BAT Shareholders’ Meeting Resolution for 2017. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) —  a major federation of trade unions in England and Wales — owns only 14,092 shares.  Also, the AFL-CIO Office of Investment confirmed that most union pension funds in the US do not own the class of BAT stock which would allow them to participate in supporting a shareholder proposal. Even with the 100 individual shares that FLOC supporters would eventually hold, FLOC would still not have an aggregate of 40,000 shares needed to file a 2017 proposal (by 12/31/16).

However, for a BAT shareholder resolution filing for the 2018 BAT shareholders meeting, FLOC reported that the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio owns 2,385,000 shares of BAT stock — which are apparently the “correct class” of stock. (Surprised that a class issue arises in Britain?? 😉 ) FLOC will be contacting the Ohio AFT and working out arrangements for 2018. Stay tuned, and change your RDU – Heathrow ticket reservations to 2018.

Hasta la Victoria in 2017!

Find more like this: Winter 2017 Newsletter

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