Labor rights leader: ‘Anything is negotiable’ when ‘the rich man’s’ money is threatened

By David Edwards
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 13:32 EDT
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Baldemar Velasquez screenshot via YouTube
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The founder of the AFL-CIO’s Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) on Monday called on activists and workers to target the cash flow of corporations in the South that resist labor organizing.

Appearing at the Southern Workers Assembly outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Monday, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez pointed out that “anything is negotiable” when large corporations’ profits are under threat.

“How can we compel the world’s richest coroporations to sit down and cooperate with us?” he asked the crowd, including several hundred members of Southern unions and civil rigths groups. “When you impede the rich man’s ability to make money, anything is negotiable! Go to where the money lives. It maybe be Bank of America, it may be JPMorgan Chase, it may be [R.J.] Reynolds Tobacco Company.”

“We are the people that consume, we are the producers in America! If we can harness ourselves in America and put the pressure where it’s at, we can compel them to sit down and negotiate contracts!”

Velasquez explained to Raw Story that pressure needed to be applied to the entire supply chain before labor conditions would change.

“Remember, all of these workers who are exploited — I don’t care what industry you’re in — all of the workers are creating the wealth,” Velasquez said. “If you go up the supply chain, who is taking advantage of the money the workers are creating? Somebody out there is benefiting. You’ve got to go up that supply chain.”

“It may not just be the employer, it may be the retailer, it may be the manufacturing facility,” he explained. “Who ever it is at the top, that’s who we have to target. He’s not the employer, but he’s the guy that pulls the strings. We have to follow the money.”

Due to right-to-work laws, the U.S. South has the lowest concentration of labor unions in the nation. Labor groups like the AFL-CIO protested the selection of Charlotte, North Carolina as host of the Democratic National convention by withholding millions of dollars that would have gone to sponsor the event.

Amid the passage of Jim Crow laws in 1959, North Carolina banned public sector workers from collective bargaining. The United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for the law to be repealed on the basis that it is a violation of basic human rights.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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