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September 17, 2004

Big Union Win for NC Farmworkers

This is awesome! Farmworkers have no protection under federal labor law, so every campaign is a dirty, hard struggle.

But farmworkers in North Carolina won an agreeement with the Mt. Olive Pickle Company that will improve conditions for thousands of farmworkers and actually produce the largest single unionization result in North Carolina history.

Parts of the agreement include:

  • Mt. Olive will raise the price it pays farmers for cucumbers by about 10 percent over three years. Part of that increase will be passed to workers who pick cucumbers.
  • Growers who supply Mt. Olive will be encouraged to allow union organizers to visit workers without interference.
  • The N.C. Growers Association, which uses a federal program that supplies foreign labor to about 1000 farms, will recognize the union run by the organizing committee, including some farms that don't supply Mt. Olive.

    It's this last provision that will bring the most change, according to the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which struggled for and won the agreement.

    The success also highlights what is possible when religious and community groups support a union drive, as the Council of Churches and the United Methodist Church did in supporting a boycott of Mt. Olive pickles.

    So a nice bit of good labor news from down South!

    Posted by Nathan at September 17, 2004 05:34 PM