Commentary

Disappointing: Cooper signs bill that unfairly targets farmworkers

One supposes that Gov. Roy Cooper feels he has to pick his battles carefully these days given the hard realities at the General Assembly, where Republicans hold “veto proof” majorities in both the House and the Senate.  That said, the Guv’s decision today to approve farm legislation that, among other things, unfairly targets farmworkers and their efforts to organize labor unions is a major and frustrating disappointment. This is from the good people at the North Carolina AFL-CIO:

Statement by NC State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Gov. Cooper’s Plan to Sign S615

“We are deeply disappointed…”

“Working people in North Carolina deserve better from our legislators and our Governor.” 

We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Cooper plans to sign the Farm Bill (S615). This legislation singles out farm workers and undermines their freedom of association and ability to collectively negotiate for better wages and working conditions.

This attack on farm workers’ rights is most likely in retaliation for a series of lawsuits brought by farm workers and their union (Farm Labor Organizing Committee) over wage theft and mistreatment on several farms in Eastern NC — including one owned by Sen. Brent Jackson, who sponsored this bill and chaired the Senate conference committee. It is a clear conflict of interest and blatant abuse of power for legislators who are also growers to push policies that allow them to gain more and more profit on the backs of their workers.

Working people in North Carolina deserve better from our legislators and our Governor. We will be vigilant in our pursuit of justice for farm workers — including supporting FLOC’s legal challenge of this unfair law.

Even if a veto was sure to be overridden, Cooper could have made an important statement of solidarity with many of the state’s most vulnerable people by taking such an action. Let’s hope he explains his reasoning to workers and their representatives at some point in the near future.

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