Camp Solidarity is a one day immersion experience into the world of agriculture and farmworkers in Eastern North Carolina. It is a chance for visitiors to learn more about the challenges many farmworkers face in their day to day lives, visit the labor camps to see living and working conditions with their own eyes, and talk with workers to share stories and build relationships of solidarity throughout the community.
The program runs June through August, and due to limited resources we can only facilitate a certain number of visits per season. If you are interested in organizing a Camp Solidarity visit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Camp Solidarity Visitors
On Thursday September 20, FLOC hosted a Camp Solidarity visit with members of the Beloved Community Center (BCC). The Beloved Community Center is a community based organization that is committed to grassroots empowerment, especially among minorities, within the context and spirit of forging a beloved community for all residents. About 20 members of BCC gathered at the FLOC office to learn more about farmworkers, how they live and work, and current organizing efforts to ensure that all have safe and healthy working conditions and fair wages. Two farmworkers, Natividad and Carmen, joined us to share their stories as women farmworkers. Natividad explained how hard the job is and the difficulties of working in the fields and raising three children at the same time.
In the afternoon we loaded the vans and took a road trip to Nash county, which is one of the top tobacco and sweet potato producing counties in NC, and is home to thousands of farmworkers and dozens of growers. Veronica, the cook at the first camp we visited, showed us around the kitchen and explained to the group how with only one stove and two refrigerators, she cooks for all 25 people living in the camp.
Later we visited Wilson county, which is also among the top tobacco producing counties on NC. In a field nearby the camp, Rev. Johnson, who understands the hardships of tobacco harvesting from his own experiences when he was younger, showed the group how tobacco is harvested, and talked about the dangers of tar and nicotine as well as the pesticides and herbicides.
Following the visits we were joined by President Velazquez who spoke about the importance of building relationships between faith and labor communities, and what a key role BCC has played in pushing Reynolds to the table to talk with FLOC. Rev. Johnson and Wesley shared a message of solidarity and spoke about how crucial it is that we continue to close the black/brown divide and build unity throughout our communities.
Together, we continue to build the movement for justice! Many thanks to BCC for joining us for this powerful visit.
On August 29, Greg Junemann, International President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), attended Camp Solidarity. He was joined by representatives from the Embassy of Japan and the Embassy of Taiwan, who also were interested in learning more about labor organizing in agriculture.
"The work camps are made of rows of shacks that encircle a stony yard. The shacks rest on concrete slabs. The crude buildings are made of bare wood with bare pipe in the few buildings that have running water (the kitchens, the laundry rooms and the bathrooms are all located in the same buildings). A lone 50-gallon water heater is used to accommodate up to 100 people, who all need to bathe, wash their clothes and eat in the same complex. When the hot water runs out, the workers simply have to shower and do their laundry in cold water. There is no running water in any of the shacks used for sleeping.
We arrived in time to find most of the workers had just washed after the day’s work. They were all incredibly friendly and in good spirits, although none of them could hide the fact that they were dog tired. At this point in their day, the simple act of sitting down was a joyous experience." Read more
In July, representatives from the National and State AFL-CIO joined FLOC for a Camp Solidairty visit. Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, Fred Redmond, International Vice President of the United Steelworkers, and James Andrews, President of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, spent the day with FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez touring the fields and labor camps of NC.
At the Executive Council meeting of the AFL-CIO shortly after the visit, all of the visitors spoke passionately about the need for all affiliates to support farmworkers in their struggle to organize. Vice President Holt Baker pledged to send a letter to Reynolds encouraging them to work with FLOC, signed by herself, President Trumka, and Secretary Treasurer Shuler.
In order to help spread awareness about dire conditions in NC and the urgency of the organizing work, Vice President Holt Baker created the video below, which was also shown to all of the members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.