You might think it would be a bit tricky to draw connections between farmworkers and big finance moguls like Chase and JP Morgan (now JP Morgan Chase) – but it’s a lot easier than you would think.
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC – know for their transnational H2A worker organizing model and winner of a MacArthur genius award) continued their campaign against JP Morgan Chase. So why are they doing this? Well, for the past X years FLOC has been running a campaign against Reynolds Tobacco (one of the largest tobacco companies in North Carolina) to recognize the union that workers on their tobacco farms are calling for. For those who don’t know, tobacco is one of the most dangerous crops to pick due to the prevelance of Green tobacco sickness (nicotine poisoning through the skin) which is experienced at least once in a growing season by 24% of tobacco workers. In just one day, workers can absorb the amount of nicotine found in 36 cigarettes.
So back to JP Morgan Chase, as outlined in this article JP Morgan Chase is actually a huge financier of RJ Reynolds and so FLOC is pressuring JP Morgan Chase as a way to pressure RJ Reynolds. Pretty smart right? Well, it gets smarter, beyond just leafleting and calling up JP Morgan Chase, FLOC is teaming up with other union allies to really put the pressure on. The United Auto Workers withdrew their funds from JP Morgan Chase to protest the bank’s foreclosure policies and its banking relationship with RJ Reynolds. As head of FLOC, Baldemar Velasquez said, “This is a campaign against greedy bankers, who are making money head-over-heels from poor people losing their homes and farm workers out in the fields.” The point the Mr. Velasquez is making is extremely relevant and it’s really important to recognize the intersection between issues for workers – from investing in horrible companies to foreclosing on working families. As the only farmworker organization that is a member of the AFL-CIO FLOC has a unique ability to be able to easily mobilize other AFL-CIO members to support their work, in addition to being able to support their work.
Pressuring banks has been a strategy that has been quite successful in the recent years – for example the anti-Mountain Top Removal movement has pressured JP Morgan Chase, Bank of American, Citi, Morgan Stanley, and PNC banks into having “environmental due diligence protocols on lending to mountaintop removal mining companies.”
In the end, we all know banks have a lot of power – so let’s show them that they need to treat our earth and people with respect.