KAMPALA, UGANDA: On July 3-5, 2019, Baldemar Velásquez,
president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC),
and FLOC Vice President Justin Flores will meet with
other labor organizations that represent tobacco workers around
the world, to fortify strategies and policies that address the
deplorable labor conditions of farm workers and corruption in
global tobacco supply chains.
Velásquez will co-lead the worker representatives negotiating
with employers and governments about how to implement
International Labour Organization (ILO) standards around the
FLOC leaders believe that labor conditions won’t change simply
because labor standards are set and approved of by any given
country. Velásquez has been leading an effort since 2015 to
collaborate with tobacco workers around the world to make sure
that tobacco companies guarantee labor rights to all workers in
their global supply chains.
FLOC will take advantage of the ILO meeting setting to continue
discussions with international trade unions to collaborate and
build organizing campaigns in the tobacco fields that can
ratchet up the pressure to force companies and governments to
comply with global labor standards.
“We have always believed in justice for all workers. If we
aren’t helping our brothers and sisters in places like Malawi,
Uganda, or Zimbabwe, then tobacco companies will gladly cut jobs
in the US and go where the cheap labor is to guarantee cheaper
tobacco,” said Velásquez of his efforts to support international
FLOC was founded in 1967 by Velásquez when he was a migrant farm
worker. Among his numerous awards, Velásquez was a 1989
MacArthur Fellow (Genius Grant). FLOC is a labor union that
represents agricultural workers in the Mid-West and Southern US.
FLOC has been fighting for over ten years to pressure Reynolds
American, part of the largest tobacco company in the world, to
guarantee basic labor rights in their supply chain and comply
with ILO standards.