Seven farmworkers have been blacklisted from working at Jackson Farms for speaking out about unfair labor conditions, and they need your support.
In October 2015, the same day political supporters came together for a fundraiser on NC State Senator Brent Jackson’s farm, Jackson’s son, Rodney, fired a migrant farmworker from Mexico named Jose because he couldn't pay $2,400 for a gas pump piece that broke during a workplace accident. Jackson fired Jose and told him he had 30 minutes to leave the farm or the police would be called. Suddenly without a job or a place to live, Jose was forced to wait on the side of the road until the owner of a nearby Mexican store came to pick him up and assist him with purchasing a plane ticket back to Mexico.
This is not the only case of retaliation for voicing complaints at Jackson Farms. Six other employees have filed legal claims, along with Jose, over wages not paid to them in the 2015 season. Farm employees called many of the workers to scare them into dropping the lawsuit, and when they refused they were blacklisted and denied employment for the 2016 season. This type of retaliation sets a clear example for other workers on the farm: complain and you will lose your job.
This is what happens when workers aren’t free to organize and negotiate fair terms of employment, and when there is no safe grievance mechanism for workers to voice complaints. This is what it looks like when employers use fear to keep workers silent, even when their wages are being stolen or they’re forced to work in unsafe conditions. And this is exactly why tobacco companies must work with FLOC to ensure that freedom of association is protected on every tobacco farm, and that all workers can safely speak out against injustice.