The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is a labor union and labor organizing group for farmworkers in Ohio, the Carolinas, and Mexico. The union conducts collective bargaining and secondary protests outside the National Labor Relations Act framework, since the NLRA does not apply to the agriculture sector.
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) was founded by Baldemar Velasquez in 1967 and incorporated as a labor union in 1979. The organization’s first major corporate campaign targeted Campbell’s Soup, seeking to pressure the company to collectively bargain with FLOC to set labor standards for its tomato suppliers.
Currently, FLOC seeks to organize farmworkers in Ohio, South Carolina, and North Carolina, with a special emphasis on organizing farmworkers who migrate seasonally from Mexico. The union has begun a secondary boycott campaign against Reynolds Tobacco, which has refused to force its suppliers to bargain with FLOC.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the law governing most union-management interactions in the private sector, such “secondary boycotts” are generally prohibited. However, due to a statutory exemption the NLRA, it does not apply to agricultural laborers thereby permitting secondary actions.
FLOC is also an advocate for substantial increases in immigration and amnesty and permanent residency for illegal migrants currently in the United States. The union opposed provisions of the 2006 McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that would have increased border security and workplace enforcement of work authorization laws.
The principal source of funding for Farm Labor Organizing Committee is dues collected from FLOC’s membership. FLOC has received contributions from progressive nonprofits, including Oxfam America.
FLOC is a member of the AFL-CIO, which means that it has a financial relationship with the union federation. FLOC collects “per capita tax” as part of member dues that are then passed to the AFL-CIO. Additionally, FLOC will periodically reimburse the AFL-CIO for services the federation provides the organizing committee.
In recent years, the United Mine Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and the AFL-CIO itself have given funds to FLOC.
The President of Farm Labor Organizing Committee since its founding is union organizer Baldemar Velasquez. Velasquez has helmed the union for 50 years and sits on the AFL-CIO Executive Council. In 1989, Velasquez was made a MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation. The Government of Mexico has honored Velasquez with its highest award conferrable upon a foreigner, the Order of the Aztec Eagle (Aguila Azteca).