A migrant camp is tucked behind a line of trees, out of view of anyone driving along the nearby road. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC) is working to unionize tobacco workers in North Carolina.
FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez, left, speaks with a migrant worker, who agreed to be photographed but declined to be named, outside the cinder block building where he lives. The union, which was founded in Ohio, has been expanding south. Many tobacco workers are undocumented immigrants and fear reprisal from their employers for union involvement.
Handwritten payment slips, delivered to migrant workers, are inspected during a tour of migrant laborer camps Sunday, July 28, 2014, organized by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), outside Raleigh, North Carolina. British Members of Parliament Ian Lavery and James Sheridan toured two migrant camps with FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez. Mr. Velasquez alleges the slips are a violation of North Carolina labor law. The Blade/Katie Rausch
A sleeping area housing seven men is part of a migrant camp hidden from the nearby roadway by a line of thick trees. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), has convinced some of the laborers who live and work here to join up with the union, though many remain skeptical of the organization.
British Member of Parliament James Sheridan, center, pauses after touring the living quarters in a migrant laborer camp, pictured below, in between Wilson and Raleigh, North Carolina. Organized by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), Sheridan and his fellow British Member of Parliament Ian Lavery toured two migrant camps. Once back in the United Kingdom, the Labor Party politicians said they will push to exert pressure on British American Tobacco, which owns the biggest share of tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc., to make changes that improve the lives of migrant workers.
Santiago Garcia, a tobacco worker from Guatemala, pauses as he speaks of his inability to work while standing near the single wide trailer where he and four other men near Dudley, North Carolina. Garcia, who had to turn the deed to his property in Guatemala to the smuggler who helped him get the the U.S., had part of his finger amputated recently in an on-the-job accident. His employer pays no workman's compensation, and Garcia is going to be soon unable to make rent. Facing the potential of deportation and the subsequent loss of his property in Guatemala, Garcia turned to the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC) for help. They are engaged in a campaign to unionize North Carolina tobacco workers.
Garcia's finger remains bandaged after it was caught a mechanical tobacco harvester while working. When he can work, Garcia makes about $7 an hour, less than the $7.25 minimum wage.
British Member of Parliament James Sheridan, left, speaks with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre share a word at the headquarters of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), near Dudley, North Carolina. U.S Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) was joined by British Members of Parliament Ian Lavery and James Sheridan for a tour of tobacco workers' homes and a tobacco field where worker's were suckering and topping plants as part of an effort by FLOC to garner political support for their campaign to unionize North Carolina's tobacco workers.
More than 100 FLOC members, supporters and allies gather Sunday, July 28, 2014, for a round table discussion with British Members of Parliament Ian Lavery, at table center, and James Sheridan, at table right, after their two-day-long tour of migrant laborer camps in between Dudley and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Biridiana Campos, center, cries after she finished speaking about the sexual exploitation female tobacco workers face on the job. Campos spoke during a town hall meeting put on by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), for workers to share their stories with union and political leaders Saturday, July 26, 2014, near Dudley, North Carolina.
A tobacco worker, who was brought to the United States on an agricultural guest worker program VISA, pauses as he suckers and tops tobacco plants near Dudley, North Carolina. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC) is encouraging local farmers to use the guest worker program, which they say protects the rights of migrant workers. The union's efforts are ongoing as they struggle to to bring attention to the workers, many of whom remain hidden in plain sight.