NC Faith Leaders to Meet with Reynolds Tobacco on Farmworkers’ Rights
Monday, November 29, 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Faith leaders are urging tobacco companies to support migrant workers employed by their contract farms.
A group of clergy will meet next week with representatives from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company about North Carolina farmworkers' right to organize for better wages and working conditions without retaliation.
Julie Taylor, executive director of the Raleigh-based National Farm Worker Ministry, said advocates want British American Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds parent company, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding which would guarantee freedom of association without retaliation and ban contract growers and H2A farm labor contractors from retaliating against farmworkers.
"If they wanted to sign union cards, if they wanted to advocate for higher wages, if they wanted to organize for better living or working conditions," Taylor outlined.
In a statement responding to a letter written by faith leaders earlier this year, R.J. Reynolds said employers must not retaliate against workers for exercising their rights and appreciates the upcoming meeting as a chance to describe its supply-chain responsibility program.
Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee for the AFL-CIO, which represents migrant farmworkers in the Midwest and South, including more than 6,000 workers in North Carolina, explained migrant workers have little recourse because they have been left out of federal labor laws.
He added current North Carolina law makes it illegal for farmers to deduct voluntary union dues from their paychecks, and also prohibits workers from reaching a legal settlement as part of a union agreement.
"Based on the historic abuse, exploitation of agricultural workers in North Carolina, excluded from major labor laws that would protect them and give them the right to speak for themselves," Velasquez asserted.
He added the abuses faced by tobacco farmworkers are well-documented, including inadequate housing, pesticide and nicotine poisoning, wage theft and long work hours without breaks in extreme temperatures.
get more stories like this via email
Research is emerging about the secondary trauma school staff members face after helping students during the pandemic. As summer moves forward…
Health and Wellness
A Florida judge plans to put a hold on the state's new, 15-week abortion ban, set to take effect today. He said it is unconstitutional and will issue …
The Environmental Protection Agency now has fewer tools to fight climate change, after the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the agency of its authority to …
Three projects in Idaho have been selected to receive grants from the AARP Community Challenge. Among them is the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in …
Montanans get a sense of what soil health is like on farms and ranches across the state with Northern Plains Resource Council's soil crawls. The …
A new tool aims to help older adults in Arkansas and beyond who receive Medicare track what happens at their doctor appointments. It also can help …
A campaign in Maine is gathering signatures to replace the state's investor-owned energy grid with a consumer-owned utility. Central Maine Power (…
Another important U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month has been overshadowed by the controversy about overturning abortion rights. Legal experts say …