Coalition headed by ACLU files suit for farm workers in NC

A few more details:

The lawsuit argues that the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017 impedes farmworkers’ First Amendment right to participate in unions, and asserts that the law is discriminatory, as more than 90 percent of the state’s agricultural workers are Latino. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the government cannot impose special burdens on expressive associations such as unions.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the only farmworkers’ union in the state — the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) — and two individual farmworkers. It was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Law Offices of Robert J. Willis. The groups are asking the court to block implementation of the law as the challenge proceeds.

“Politicians that are also growers shouldn’t pass self-serving laws simply because they don’t want their workers to unionize. With the continuation of Jim Crow-era laws that aim to stop a now almost entirely Latino workforce from organizing, this is an affront to freedom of association and smacks of racism. Companies like Reynolds American should be embarrassed that growers in their supply chains are attacking the very farmworkers who make their companies’ wealth,” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez.

More than 100,000 farmworkers provide labor to North Carolina farms, helping to generate more than $12 billion for the state economy. The vast majority are Latinos and work seasonally, many under temporary H2A visas.

With both the Departments of Labor and Agriculture in the tight grip of Republicans, the working conditions, the temporary housing conditions, and the near-blackmail level of pay dispersal, all have created a situation that in many ways mirrors the slave plantations of the mid-19th Century. In the absence of collective bargaining, these folks literally have no resources or recourse to tap into.

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