FLOC targeted in Farm Bill S615
Agribusiness owners in the General Assembly are attacking farmworker unions, first in a separate bill (S375) and then through an amendment to Farm Bill S615, leading the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to call for a veto from Governor Cooper. There is an online petition at: actionnetwork.org/petitions/veto-farm-bill-s615-a-bill-designed-by-farmers-elected-to-the-nc-state-legislature-to-stop-farm-worker-unions-progress?source=direct_link& and the text of the bills is online at: www.ncleg.net
North Carolina already prohibits collective bargaining with public workers and the overall rate of unionization is low, though there are more unions here than people might realize. Governments have even resorted to driving away businesses that planned to locate in the State, but had unionized workers.
[Governor Cooper signed this bill attacking workers' rights, so FLOC will hold a short press conference Tuesday, July 18th at 10am at the Old State Capitol in Raleigh (at the South Pad, on the Morgan Street side, near Morgan and Fayetteville streets).
A statement from FLOC:
“Today, Governor Cooper has signed S615, rejecting requests from labor and immigrant rights organizations and other social justice NGOs for a veto. The bill was sponsored by farmers elected to the General Assembly and aimed at stopping farmworkers from joining the state’s only agricultural union, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and winning improved working conditions through union agreements.”
“ ‘Gov. Cooper chose to be on the wrong side of history, supporting the continuation of racist Jim Crow-era laws aimed at keeping immigrant farmworkers from achieving equal rights and ending abuses in the fields. It is a shame that this Democrat and others refuse to stand on the side of the most marginalized working poor and the immigrant workers that keep this state’s economy afloat.’ said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez. The bill was aimed squarely at stopping the union from continuing its efforts to improve wages and work conditions for its membership through organizing, education, and filing legal claims over labor violations. The bill singles out voluntary union dues deductions, making them illegal, while leaving legal other types of voluntary deductions, such as unions in other industries, savings plans, charity, etc.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dixon, himself a farmer, was asked about why he feared farmworkers would join unions when there are already anti-union laws in place and replied, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” clarifying without a doubt his intention to stifle workers’ right to freedom of association and speech. ……. (FLOC) plans to challenge this bill in the courts, as a violation of farmworkers rights to freedom of assembly and speech and continue our fight for better wages for immigrant families in the state.” ]
Wilson Library is also hosting an exhibit (June 2nd to September 22nd, on the 4th floor) on the effort to save the Eno River when the City of Durham proposed drowning it for a drinking water reservoir in the 60's. This led to the formation of what is today the Eno River Association, Eno River State Park in 1973, and the annual Eno River Festival, first held in 1980. For more information, see: blogs.lib.unc.edu/news/index.php/2017/06/eno-river-festival-exhibit/
A movement tried but failed to save the New Hope River (erased from the map today) and lower Haw River from the Federal dam project that created what is today Jordan Lake, and today people are trying to reduce the reservoir's pollution problems, which were predicted before the dam was built.
Student Action with Farmworkers 25th anniversary
Student Action with Farmworkers, based in Durham, was organized in 1992 and is hosting anniversary exhibits and events throughout NC and in Washington, DC this year. There will be an exhibit at FLOC's office in Dudley May 26th to December 31st. There will be an event August 5th 6-9:30pm at the Power Plant in Durham's American Tobacco complex. Duke's Center for Documentary Studies will host an exhibit June 22nd to November 11th, with a reception September 10th 2-4pm. For details, see: saf-unite.org/content/saf-2017-exhibits-events
Building the People's Congress of Resistance meeting in Raleigh
Leading up to the People's Congress of Resistance, September 16-17, ANSWER is holding a meeting Friday, July 14th at Cup A Joe (3100 Hillsborough Street, next to NSCU in Raleigh), 6-8pm. The Facebook event is at: www.facebook.com/events/1938480983091641
Local elections coming up
People can register to run for office in the City of Durham July 7-21st, for the elections October 10th and November 7th this year. The Durham Board of Elections website is: dconc.gov/government/departments-a-e/board-of-elections and the State Board is at: www.ncsbe.gov/
The Durham People's Alliance PAC will meet to decide what candidates to endorse August 29th, location TBA.
Election results are on at State Board's website and they are broken up by precinct Durham's website; in Durham County 535 (0.34%) write-in votes were registered for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, while there were 2000 (1.28%) miscellaneous write-ins, and Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3,999 (2.56%) votes.
Ozone Garden Workshop
Central North Carolina often has problems with air pollution, especially when ozone forms at ground level during the summer, where it is harmful to both humans and other species, including plants. Clean Air Carolina is organizing a workshop on the impact of ozone pollution on plants Saturday, July 22nd 9-10:30am at Wing Havens Garden (248 Ridgewood Avenue, Charlotte). CAC Clear the Air for Kids Program Manager and Master Gardener Mary Stauble will speak briefly, followed by questions from the audience, and there will be a tour of CAC's Ozone Garden, nearby at the Little Sugar Creek Greenway paralleling Westfield Road. There will be free light refreshments and participants will each receive an ozone-sensitive plant. RSVP is required; see: cleanaircarolina.org/rsvp-july-22-ozone-meeting/ For more about ozone gardens see: cleanaircarolina.org/programs/clear-the-air-for-kids/ Apparently crownbeard, a tall yellow flower common in Chapel Hill and along the Eno in Durham, is especially ozone-sensitive, and shows leaf damage when ozone levels are high.
Rivers on Raleigh: Turning Out Against the ACP!
While thanking Governor Cooper for joining other governors in continuing to support the Paris climate treaty, the Sierra Club and others are organizing a demonstration against the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Wednesday, July 26th, 10:30-11:30am at the Governor's Mansion (200 North Blount Street, Raleigh. According to the Meetup.com announcement from the Sierra Club's Capital Group, the pipeline would cross many rivers and creeks in eastern North Carolina and destroy more than 600 acres of wetland. Participants can bring kayaks or canoes (but come early in that case), life jackets, inner tubes, fishing poles (without hooks), and signs. There is supposed to be parking opposite the protest.
Anniversaries of US nuclear attacks on Japan: August 6th in Hiroshima and August 9th in Nagasaki.
There will pobably be a local commemoration, but I haven't heard of any plans yet.
NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture hearings
There will be hearings investigating North Carolina's role in extraordinary rendition and torture November 30th and December 1st in the Raleigh Convention Center (for more information about the NCCIT, see www.nccit.org/ ). The hearings are free and public, but registration is encouraged (email info (at nccit dot org). June 26th was the UN's annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.