A thank you from FLOC

May 5, 2020

The branch received this email following our recent $500 donation in support of FLOC:

 

Hi to you wonderful contributors to FLOC’s efforts to protect its farmworker members from COVID-19 risks in their labor camps and in the fields.

 

And, if you haven’t yet contributed, there’s still a big need …. and still time …. to support farmworkers. 

 

Please excuse this blanket thank-you letter to all of you contributors. Some of you contributed financially (around $3K from NC), some of you have created masks, some have collected and contributed masks and other PPE supplies, some have driven supplies out to FLOC’s Dudley office.  Most contributed as individuals, but thanks to the solidarity showing by such groups as the NC AFL-CIO, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP chapter, the Church Women United-Chapel Hill chapter …. and others. 

 

All of these contributions are extremely important – FLOC’s situation is urgent as they:

 

  • communicate with members in over 200 far-flung labor camps,

  • assess and prioritize each situation, 

  • take supplies to camps where those are most needed, and

  • discuss with worker-leaders what can/should be done in camps where growers have not – or cannot – provide the basic necessities to make camps safe and livable.   

 

Right now, FLOC is the only organization (that we know of) delivering supplies to individual labor camps and directly consulting with and advising workers.  

 

It’s remarkable that there has so far been only one reported farmworker COVID case (NC’s meat processing plants are, as you know, a very different story), and part of that successful COVID resistance is due to your contributions. Triangle Friends of Farmworkers thanks you, and FLOC staff thank you.

 

One final thought: You probably know that several other NC farmworker support organizations (both governmental and non-profits) are working hard to:

 

  • (a) advocate that state and national policies and programs addressing COVID actually include and benefit immigrant farmworkers as an essential  group (and educate the public about policy deficiencies);  and 

  • (b) collect PPE supplies and provide pick-up at central locations.   

 

This is important work. But that work will go for naught if farmworkers on-the-job do not know, or are afraid to use, the policies and programs that get passed.

 

Farmworkers protected by the FLOC--NC Growers Association (NCGA) contract are far, far more likely to use those rights, to negotiate with their grower, and to reach positive settlements, than unprotected workers. The “ordinary” fear to stand up for one’s rights is only multiplied by the COVID situation. So please consider also financially supporting FLOC’s long-term organizing work to protect more workers – work that now receives relatively low funding compared to other categories of farmworker support, despite being the linchpin of farmworker protection. 

 

Hasta la Victoria

Dave Austin

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