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News :: Human Rights : Labor
NC Farm Worker Union Defends Free Association; Defends Arrested Organizers
06 Jul 2004
UNION FIGHTS FOR FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION FOR FARM WORKERS; DEFENDS ARRESTED ORGANIZERS

On June 25, FLOC organizers Blake Pendergrass and Francisco Heredia were arrested during a meeting with 20 cucumber pickers at a Nash County labor camp near Whitakers, North Carolina. The camp is owned by Tim Fisher.
The immigrant workers were meeting with FLOC to discuss their concerns over substandard living and working conditions and a pay-rate below the minimum wage. Nash County deputies arrived, disrupted the meeting, and handcuffed the organizers and charged them with criminal trespassing at the grower's request. The arrests occurred despite the workers' outspoken defense of the organizers' right to be present at the camp.

FLOC is launching a public fight to have the charges dropped by the District Attorney. By mobilizing unions, churches, organizations, and public leaders, we will expose extreme violations of basic rights that characterize the oppressive nature of the agricultural industry.

In a written statement Mr. Pendergrass and Mr. Heredia state:

"The Nash Co. Sheriff Department has chosen to violate farm workers' right to freely associate by knowingly arresting us on groundless charges. They maliciously colluded with an employer in his attempt to manipulate and dominate the private lives of hard-working people to maintain a racist system of repression and exploitation."

Federal courts, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the NC Attorney General have recognized workers' rights to receive visitors, to determine for themselves who those visitors are to be, and the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship between farm workers who live in grower-provided housing.

The international organization Human Rights Watch has criticized North Carolina police for interfering with farm workers basic rights of freedom of association and the workers' right to have visitors of their choosing.

FLOC is a labor union that represents thousands of workers who harvest cucumbers and leads the national Boycott against the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. The Boycott was called in order to win multi-party union contracts with that company in order to improve wages and living and working conditions for the workers who harvest their products. The Mt. Olive Boycott recently gained worldwide support in April with an endorsement from the United Methodist Church.

The court is set for August 3rd in Nashville, NC.

For more information, call FLOC at (919) 731-4433 or (919) 394-3019.

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TAKE ACTION Support farm workers and FLOC organizers by demanding that the charges be dropped. The court dates are set for August 3 rd in Nashville, NC.

1. Have your organization sign-on to the attached letter that will be sent to the District Attorney (also available at www.floc.com ). Email FLOC at flocorganizing (at) hotmail.com or call (919) 731-4433 and include the name of your organization, representative, and contact information.

2. Call/Write/Fax District Attorney Mr. Howard S. Boney, Jr., P.O. Box B Tarboro, NC 27886, of the 7th Prosecutorial District and demand he drop the charges against Francisco Heredia and Blake Pendergrass. Furthermore, demand that meet with the Sheriffs Department and FLOC to discuss the issue to ensure equal rights and free association to all of Nash county residents, regardless of race or occupation.

Mr. Howard S. Boney -District 7 Tarboro Office: (252) 823-7350, fax (252)641-4322 Wilson Office: (252) 291-7503 Nashville Office: (252) 459-2308

--------------------------------

SINDICATO LUCHA PARA DEFENDER LA LIBERTAD DE ASOCIASION DE CAMPESINOS; DEFIENDE A LOS ORGANIZADORES ARRESTADOS

El 25 de Junio, organizadores de FLOC Blake Pendergrass y Francisco Heredia, fueron detenidos durante una junta con 20 campesinos que piscan pepino en un campo cerca de Whitakers, Norte Carolina. El campo es de Tim Fisher.

Los trabajadores inmigrantes estaban reuniendose con FLOC para discutir sus preocupaciones sobre las malas condiciones de vida y trabajo y un nivel de pago menos del salario mínimo. Llegaron los deputados del condado Nash, interrumpieron la junta, esposaron a los organizadores y les pusieron cargos de trespasar, cumpliendo con la orden que les dio el ranchero. Las detenciones ocurrieron a pesar de la defensa pública por la presencia de FLOC de los campesinos en su campo.

FLOC está lanzando una campaña pública para que el Abogado del Distrito corte los cargos. En su esfuerzo de movilizar los sindicatos, iglesias, organizaciones, y lideres públicos, FLOC expondrá las graves violaciones de derechos básicos que caracterizan el sistema opresivo de la industria agrícola.”

En un comunicado, el Sr. Pendergrass y el Sr. Heredia afirman:



Las cortes federales, la Corte Suprema de Norte Carolina, y el Abogado General de Norte Carolina han reconocido los derechos de un campesino de recibir visitantes y determinar por si mismo quienes son tales visitantes. También han reconocido que los campesinos que viven en viviendas proveídas por un patrón tienen los mismos derechos que se tiene uno al rentar una vivienda.

La organización internacional Human Rights Watch ha criticado las prácticas de la policía de Norte Carolina por haber interferido en los derechos básicos de los campesinos de asociarse libremente y de tener los visitantes que escogen.

FLOC es un sindicato que representa miles de campesinos que piscan pepino y mantiene un boicoteo nacional en contra de la Pepinera Mt. Olive. Se declaró el Boicoteo para negociar contratos laborales con esa compañía para mejorar los salarios y las condiciones de vida y trabajo para los campesinos que cosechen sus productos. En Mayo, el boicoteo de Mt. Olive ganó apoyo mundial con el endorso de la Iglesia Metodista Unida quien exigió que Mt.Olive se siente a negociar contratos colectivos con FLOC.

Los organizadores tienen sus día en corte el 3 de Agosto.

Para más información llame al (919) 731-4433 o al (919) 394-3019.

------

TOME ACCION

Apoye a los campesinos y a los organizadores de FLOC. Exija que corte los cargos. Las fechas de las cortes son el dia 3 de Agosto para en Nashville, NC.

1. Pida que su organización firme la carta que se va a mandar al District Attorney el Sr. Howard S. Boney. Para endorsarla, mandenos un email al FLOCorganizing (at) hotmail.com o llamenos al (919) 731-4433. Ponga su nombre de su organización, un/a representante, y su información de contacto.

2. Llame, escriba, o mande un Fax al Sr. Boney del Septimo Distrito para exigir que corte los cargos en contra del Francisco Heredia y el Blake Pendergrass. Además, exija que se junte con el Departamento de Sheriffes y FLOC para discutir el asunto para garantizar derechos iguales y la asociasión libre para TODOS los residentes del condado Nash sin importancia de la raza o trabajo.

Mr. Howard S. Boney –

P.O. Box B Tarboro, NC 27886

Oficina de Tarboro: (252) 823-7350, fax (252)641-4322 Oficina de Wilson: (252) 291-7503 Oficina de Nashville: (252) 459-2308
See also:
http://www.floc.com

This work is in the public domain
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