Civil Eats 1/30/23: A Contested Election…

Article in Civil Eats, January 30, 2023

A Contested Election Is Fracturing a Farmworkers’ Union

Baldemar Velasquez has presided over the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the nation’s second-largest farmworker union, for its entire 55-year history. This year, he faced a challenger in a contested election for the first time. Chaos ensued.


JANUARY 30, 2023

Daylight was quickly fading by the time a group of five migrant farmworkers, just returning home from harvesting tobacco, boarded a white passenger van. Soon, everyone was either sleeping or softly chatting as the van moved along stretches of dark roads, passing by sweet potatoes and tobacco fields and the occasional traffic light. Two volunteers took shifts driving the 700 miles from Deep Run, North Carolina to Toledo, Ohio.

It was early September and the height of tobacco season, the most demanding time for one of the most demanding jobs, and it was hard for the farmworkers to take time off. Yet by driving overnight and returning the following day, they managed to miss just one day in their usual six-day work week to vote in their union’s election.


A Contested Election Is Fracturing a Farmworkers’ Union. Civil Eats. January 30, 2023