- 1 Early life
- 2 Education/honors
- 3 Rally Against Reagonomics, Detroit, Jan. 16, 1982
- 4 The Guardian supporter
- 5 Rainbow
- 6 DSA honor
- 7 Socialism and religion
- 8 Advisory Board Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center
- 9 Independent Progressive Politics Network
- 10 Speaking at the People's Summit
- 11 Labor Notes
- 12 Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
- 13 Detroit rally
- 14 Democratic Party delegate
- 15 Tobacco fields delegation
- 16 Cleveland Jobs with Justice 2015 awards
- 17 Black Lives Matter
- 18 New Labor Party?
- 19 Virginia connection
- 20 External links
- 21 References
Baldemar Velasquez founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967. In 1979, FLOC was formally established as a labor union of farm workers working in the Midwest. Velásquez is the current president, as of March 18, 2010.
Baldemar Velásquez was born in Pharr, Texas Feb. 15, 1947. His parents were migrant farmworkers, and Velasquez began working in the fields when he was six, picking berries and tomatoes.
Velásquez attended Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas from 1965-66. Ohio Northern University in Ada 1966-67 and from 1967-69 attended Bluffton College, where he graduated with a BA in Sociology. During 1989-90, Velasquez received his degree in Practical Theology. He received his advanced degree in 1991 and was ordained that year as Chaplain to the farmworkers by Rapha Ministries. Two major honors came to Velasquez in 1994 when 29 national Hispanic organizations chose him as the recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. That year he also received Mexico's Aguila Azteca Award — the highest award Mexico can give a non-citizen.
Rally Against Reagonomics, Detroit, Jan. 16, 1982
A notice for a "Rally Against Reaganomics" to be held on January 16, 1982, appeared in the Jan. 9, 1982 edition of the CP's Daily World (DW), p. 2.The ad had all the earmarks of a CPUSA operation as three of its key speakers were Party leaders (Gus Hall, J.J. Johnson and Ernest DeMaio, and it said "For information on the rally, please contact your local Daily World committee, the Detroit Daily World office or the main Daily World or Voz del Pueblo offices, with phone numbers given. Among the speakers listed was:
- Baldemar Velasquez - President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)
The Guardian supporter
The Guardian, April 13, 1983, p. 2, contained a fundraising message
"We Interrupt This Newspaper to Bring You An Urgent Message"
- $35,000 Matching Fund deadline: May 1
- Contributions needed immediately for the Guardian to continue publication
"35: 1948-1983" "Now, during its 35th anniversary year, join us in offering much-needed support to the Guardian - an essential voice committed to today's struggles for peace, liberation and social justice" -
Listed supporters included Baldemar Velasquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee.
On November 9, 1997 Midwest Democratic Socialists of America held it First Annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner. They honored Donald Day, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO, and Baldemar Velasquez, President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), for their lifelong commitment to working for justice on behalf of workers. Day spoke of labor's successful campaign to defeat Issue-2.
- Velasquez gave the keynote speech. He urged us to "follow the money" as the guiding principle in our activism. To illustrate his point, he told how farm workers successfully fought Campbell's Soup. Following the money, FLOC discovered that primary stockholders call the shots at Campbell's. They pressured the biggest stockholder, Philadelphia National Bank, to get Campbell's to recognize FLOC as the bargaining agent for farm workers. They persuaded depositors to withdraw their money, leafleted PNB branches, and got account holders to deposit 5 cents at a time to jam up the bank's service. The tactic worked and within a month PNB publicly urged Campbell's to negotiate with FLOC.
Socialism and religion
Is religion a fault line on the Left? The topic was race, but religion quickly took center stage at "Breaking Bread," a Nov 7 1997 community dialogue on race relations at Columbus State Community College organized by Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio's Robert Fitrakis andSuzanne Patzer. The panelists were Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Luella Tapo of the Native American Indian Center, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kee of Building Relationships for Equality and Dignity (BREAD), Bill Moss of the Columbus School Board, and Baldemar Velasquez of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). Religion came up because Kee, Moss and Velasquez testified to their faith as their motive to struggle against injustice.
Interim National Council
- Donna DeWitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO - Co-Chair
- Bill Kane, President, New Jersey Industrial Union Council - Co-Chair
- Baldemar Velasquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee - Co-Chair
- Noel Beasley, International Vice President, UNITE HERE
- Ed Bruno, California Nurses Association
- Deborah Burger, President, CNA
- Dave Campbell, Secretary-Treasurer, PACE Local 8-675
- Marilyn Clement, Director, CNHP NOW
- Russ Davis, Vice President, AFGE Local 2782
- Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director, CNA
- Mark Dimondstein, NC Piedmont Triad chapter
- Jed Dodd, General Chairman, Penn. Federation, BMWE
- Lisa Frank, Metro Pittsburgh chapter
- Cheri Honkala, Founder, Kensington Welfare Rights Union
- Bruce Klipple, General Secretary-Treasurer, UE
- C. Robert McDevitt, President, UNITE HERE Local 54
- Bill Onasch, Kansas City chapter
- Cecilia Perry, Public Policy Analyst, AFSCME
- Linda Raisovich-Parsons, UMWA
- Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor, University of Pennsylvania
- David H. Richardson, PhD, Secretary, AFGE Local 12
- Dean Robinson, Professor, UMASS-Amherst
- Anthony Rochon, BMWE
- Preston Smith II, Professor, Mount Holyoke College
- Brenda Stokely, President, AFSCME DC 1707
- Chris Townsend, Political Action Director, UE
- Gerry Zero, IBT Local 705
Advisory Board Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center
As at Winter, 2008, the following served on the Advisory Board of the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center:
- Jim Benn
- Martha Bergmark
- Marjorie Cohn
- Hon. John Conyers
- Hon. Ron Dellums
- Alan W. Houseman
- Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
- Manning Marable
- Frances Fox Piven
- Victor Rabinowitz
- Dennis Rivera
- Jordan Rossen
- Bill Tamayo
- Studs Terkel
- Baldemar Velasquez
Independent Progressive Politics Network
Speaking at the People's Summit
From June 14-17 2009, the Moratorium NOW!-initiated People's Summit was held at Grand Circus Park, Detroit, MI. A "tent city" was built at the location, and protesters camped there for four days of "Active Resistance, Political Discussion and Strategizing for a “People's Stimulus Plans” and an “Economic Bill of Rights” for Working People and the Poor." Moratorium NOW! is a Workers World Party-front organization. Speaking at the summit were Jesse Jackson; JoAnn Watson; Abayomi Azikiwe, Workers World Party; Mike Martinez, FIST, Workers World Party; Baldemar Velasquez, FLOC; Ignacio Meneses, U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange; and Rosendo Delgado, Latinos Unidos.
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Over 10,000 Detroiters marched down Washington Boulevard from the UAW-Ford National Programs Center to Grand Circus Park on Saturday, August 28th 2010, to demand "jobs, peace, and justice". The march was organized by United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King and Operation PUSH founder and director Reverend Jesse Jackson. It commemorated the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.
The dais at Grand Circus Park was "teeming with dignitaries—politicians, clergy of every denomination, and union leaders". Among the elected officials present were Representatives John Conyers, Jr., John Dingell, Maxine Waters, Marcy Kaptur and Senator Debbie Stabenow. Michigan Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero briefly addressed the audience and committed himself to placing the interests of Main Street over those of Wall Street. Among the union leaders who spoke were UAW President Bob King, newly-elected President of the Service Employees International Union Mary Kay Henry, Farm Laborers Organizing Committee President Baldemar Velasquez, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25 President Al Garrett.
Democratic Party delegate
Tobacco fields delegation
A July 2014 fact-finding delegation that included a congresswoman from Ohio and two members of the British Parliament visited North Carolina tobacco fields to examine human rights conditions.
The state AFL-CIO said the delegation that includes Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur met in Dudley. Accompanying her was Parliament members Ian Lavery and James Sheridan and a staffer Ray Rogers for North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, President Baldemar Velasquez, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre and several AFL-CIO Union Summer interns.
They were examining human rights conditions in the supply chain of British and American tobacco manufacturers. The delegation visited labor camps both Saturday and Sunday before meeting Sunday afternoon with farm workers and their supporters at Pullen Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Cleveland Jobs with Justice 2015 awards
Cleveland Jobs with Justice 18th Annual Spring Celebration were held May 2015 at the DoubleTree Downtown.
Baldemar Velasquez, Founder and President of Farm Labor Organizing Committee, was keynote speaker.
Award winners were:
Louis Stokes Award: US Representative Marcy Kaptur
George Smilnak Legacy Award: Maria Wilkinson
Rev. Bob Strommen Activist Award: Jose Mendiola
Black Lives Matter
Michael Leonardi May 12, 2015;
Very intense and powerful #BlackLivesMatter meeting tonight in Toledo!!! #BlackLivesMatterMemorialDay coming up!! With the #FLOCHomiesUnion . — with Michael Veloff, Mary AegypTia, Jodie L. Summers, Elliot Shonin Sulier, Katrina Bacome, Washington Muhammad, Peter Meinecke, Jeff Klein, Maysoon Otaibi, Terri Lynn, Twila Page, Baldemar Velasquez, Alex Read, Krassy McDougal and Julian Mack at Padua Center.
New Labor Party?
“The time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils,” reads the main political resolution passed December 2017 by AFL-CIO convention delegates. Lee Saunders, chair of the AFL-CIO’s political committee and president of AFSCME, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, introduced the resolution. They lead the labor federation’s two largest unions. Convention managers yoked the resolution to another measure it also approved discussing a labor party, though not by name.
“For decades the political system has failed working people,” Weingarten said. “Acting on behalf of corporations and the rich and powerful, the political system has been taking away, one after another, the pillars that support working people’s right to good jobs and secure benefits.”
The two measures, adopted October 24, followed a late Monday-evening meeting of supporters of reviving the Labor Party idea. It attracted about 50 delegates to an upstairs meeting room at the convention’s lead hotel. Their contention: Both the Democrats and the Republicans are under corporate domination.
The prime mover of a Labor Party motion at the convention, Postal Workers President Mark Dimondstein, has been calling for such a new formation since the passage of NAFTA in 1993, which he said showed both Democrats and Republicans were in the pockets of the corporate class.
Dimondstein made many of the same arguments for a Labor Party on the convention floor that he voiced in the meeting the night before, when Baldemar Velasquez of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Mark Dudzic of Labor Committee for Single Payer, and Donna DeWitt, former president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, joined him.
Meeting participants differed over whether the nascent party should first build an organization and concentrate on issues, or get into political races, running the risk of becoming “spoilers” in the current political system, rigged in favor of the two existing parties.
Virginia Diamond May 18 2019·
- The LEFTIE, Newsletter of the Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio, Volume IV, Issue 3, Oct 1998
- The Guardian, April 13, 1983, p. 2, fundraising message
- Labor Party News April 2005 (accessed on Dec. 31, 2010)
- KeyWiki: People's Summit (accessed on Feb. 11, 2011)
- National Executive Board
- Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America DDDSA newsletter, September 2010 Volume 11, Issue 5
- Democratic Party. Ohio Democratic Party Announces Certified Delegates for Democratic National Convention AUGUST 29, 2012 BY OHIODEMS
- A Visit to Tobacco Fields to Examine Human Rights Conditions Associated Press 8:38 p.m. EDT July 26, 2014
- AFL-CIO NOW, Kaptur Finds New 'Harvest of Shame' on N.C. Tobacco Farms, Aug 7, 2014 Mike Hall
- FB Cleveland Jobs with Justice 18th Annual Spring Celebration photos page, accessed October 20, 2015
- [https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/afl-cio-calls-for-a-break-with-lesser-of-two-evils-politics/ PW AFL-CIO calls for a break with “lesser of two evils” politics October 25, 2017 9:21 AM CST BY JOHN WOJCIK AND MARK GRUENBERG]