Delegates Pass Resolution in Support of Farm Workers


WHEREAS, Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston Salem, NC, is the second largest tobacco company in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the farm workers harvesting tobacco utilized by Reynolds American too often suffer hardships such as long hours of stoop labor in the fields, harassment in their work, abject poverty, miserable housing in their labor camps and the denial of basic labor and human rights protections; and

WHEREAS, each year countless numbers of tobacco farm workers are affected by green tobacco sickness, caused by an overexposure to nicotine and other chemicals found in tobacco leaves. Many of these workers receive little or no medical attention. The vast majority of tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and the South harvesting tobacco are not covered under workers compensation insurance; and

WHEREAS, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, which already represents thousands of migrant workers employed by growers of the North Carolina Growers Association, has launched a campaign to gain dignity, respect and safe working conditions for tens of thousands of tobacco farm workers in North Carolina harvesting tobacco for Reynolds American, Inc and other tobacco companies; and

WHEREAS, Reynolds claims that it has taken steps to ensure that exploitative conditions do not exist on its contract farms; FLOC wants Reynolds to do more because Reynolds American has a fundamental responsibility for how tobacco farm workers are paid and how they are treated, even though they do not directly employ the workers but contract with tobacco growers; and

WHEREAS, Reynolds American, Inc., has agreed after nearly 5 years of public pressure from FLOC and other supporters to meet with FLOC to discuss the conditions of the farm workers harvesting tobacco used by Reynolds; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the South Carolina State AFL-CIO calls on Reynolds American CEO Daniel Delen to work with FLOC to develop a written agreement that guarantees freedom of association and collective bargaining to tobacco farm workers to ensure that these conditions do not exist on contract farms in the Reynolds supply chain ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the South Carolina AFL-CIO and its affiliates will communicate directly with CEO Daniel Delen by letter and other means calling on him and members of the Reynolds Board of Directors to work with FLOC until a written agreement is reached, and will continue these activities until FLOC is satisfied with the company’s response; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the South Carolina AFL-CIO commits itself and its affiliates to bring justice to tobacco farm workers in the South and to engage in activities to support FLOC until FLOC informs the South Carolina AFL-CIO that its goals have been achieved.

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