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Resolution In Support of Farm Workers Organizing in North Carolina

Status: Adopted Unanimously by the NCC General Assembly on November 17, 2000

 Whereas: The poor working conditions of farm workers in North Carolina and other states are economically and socially unjust;

Whereas: The more than 100,000 migrant farm workers in North Carolina represent a very vulnerable population that is physically and socially isolated, usually lacking in English language skills, often unaware of their rights, living in fear of retaliation and intimidation if they complain or protest their working conditions;

Whereas: Migrant farm workers have successfully organized and bargained collectively for better wages and working conditions in Ohio and Michigan, as a result of efforts by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), whose organizing campaign and boycott of Campbell’s Soup Company led to historic three-party agreements between the growers, farm workers and processors;

Whereas: A reported 2,000 or more migrant farm workers in North Carolina have signed on to have the Farm Labor Organizing Committee represent them in a similar situation in North Carolina;

Whereas: Mt. Olive, as a leading processor in the pickle industry, has the ability to recognize the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and negotiate contracts to improve the lives of the workers who harvest their crop;

Whereas: For nearly two years the Farm Labor Organizing Committee sought to negotiate a contract with the Mt. Olive Pickle Company and the company steadfastly refused to bargain;

Whereas: Farm workers are excluded from many of the laws protecting other workers including the National Labor Relations Act which guarantees most workers the right to organize and strike;

Whereas: As a last resort to have their voices heard a boycott was initiated in March, 1999 by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee against the Mt. Olive Pickle Company order to pressure the company to negotiate;

Whereas: Agricultural Missions, an affiliated agency of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCC) has completed a study on farm workers which included meetings with Mt. Olive as well as with the farm workers in North Carolina and has endorsed the boycott;

Whereas: The National Farm Worker Ministry, a related organization to the NCCC with eighty years of experience in ministry with farm workers has called upon faith groups around the country to support the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s organizing campaign and boycott;

Whereas: The NCCC through its policy statements and resolutions, has consistently supported justice for farm workers including the right to union representation; and whereas national and local churches and ecumenical agencies and have joined over 200 other organizations in endorsing the Mt. Olive boycott;

Therefore;

Be it resolved that the NCCC support the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in its efforts to organize a union among North Carolina farm workers in order to bring a greater measure of justice and dignity to those who work in the agricultural industry;

Be it further resolved that the NCCC assume a leadership role among the churches and call upon the Mt. Olive Pickle Company to come to the table with farm workers and enter into contract negotiations with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee;

Be it further resolved that the NCCC General Secretary, in consultation with Agricultural Missions, appoint a team to facilitate and monitor the status of contract negotiations between Mt. Olive and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and report to the Executive Board at their next meeting for further action including endorsement of a boycott if necessary.

Policy Base:

Policy Statement on The Concern of the Churches for Seasonal Farm Workers, December 8, 1966;
Policy Statement on The Church as Purchaser of Goods and Services, September 12, 1968
Resolution approved by the National Ministries Unit Committee of the NCCC, April 1999

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