Photographic History of FLOC

Portrait of Baldemar Velasquez

Baldemar Velasquez

"FLOC began in the mid-1960s, when Baldemar Velásquez convinced a small group of migrant farmworkers in northwest Ohio to come together for their common good. Initial successes generated strong reactions in the agricultural industry, which has been structured to benefit those at the top, while exploiting those who labor at the bottom. It took several years for FLOC to build a base among farmworkers in the area...

In 1978, President Velasquez led over 2,000 FLOC members on strike in Ohio, the largest in agricultural history of Midwest, who demanded union recognition and a multi-party bargaining agreement. The following year, FLOC held its first constitutional convention as a labor union, and the workers voted to boycott Campbell Soup in their call for negotiations.

FLOC members and their allies struggled for eight years to win the first tri-party contract ever in agriculture.

These contracts changed the structure of the agricultural industry, so that farmworkers have an equal and direct voice in those conditions that affect their well-being. The FLOC movement has made labor history in bringing in different components of the industry into negotiated agreements. In 1983, Baldemar led a 600-mile march of 100 farmworkers from Toledo, Ohio, to Campbell’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. Such actions and the pressure of supporters through the boycott eventually convinced Campbell Soup that the issue was not going away. Farm labor elections were held under the supervision of an independent labor relations board, the Dunlop Commission, and in 1986, FLOC signed three-way contracts with Campbell Soup and its tomato and pickle grower associations in Ohio and Michigan.

This victory was soon extended with Heinz and other major food-processing corporations in the Midwest, as well as fresh-market producers. Under union contracts, some 8,000 workers, many who had worked under an exploitive “share-cropping” arrangement, received employee status, and wages and benefits more than doubled. New housing in migrant camps and other conditions also significantly improved. Under grievance procedures established in the union contracts, FLOC workers also have a direct voice in their day-to-day working conditions, and can file complaints without fear of retaliation."

-Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, About Us

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Demonstration at Putnam County, Ohio Courthouse, 1978

Demonstration at Putnam County, Ohio Courthouse, 1978

Barricade at Morgan Packing Company, 1975

Barricade at Morgan Packing Company, 1975

Labor Day demonstration against Campbell Soup Company, 1979

Labor Day demonstration against Campbell Soup Company, 1979

Photographic History of FLOC