Farm Labor Leader
Age: 42 at time of award
Published August 1, 1989
Baldemar Velasquez is president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in Toledo, Ohio.
In 1967, Velasquez co-founded FLOC, an organization that strives to improve the welfare of migrant farm workers. Under his leadership, FLOC achieved a historic breakthrough in contract negotiations with the Campbell Soup Company in 1986. Since then, he has won and renewed labor contracts with Heinz, Campbell Soup, Vlasic, and Dean Foods. He has been able to reach agreements with growers by understanding their labor-supply needs and urging them to understand the needs of agricultural workers. These agreements, that include FLOC, the processor, farmers, and grading stations are unique in Midwest agriculture, as they are the first, multiparty, collective bargaining agreements in labor history.
He also focused his attention upon worker education, food and fuel cooperatives and a legal clinic, working to secure health care, housing, and day care for members of FLOC and their families. Velasquez was an organizer of the National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991, and was appointed as a charter member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (1993-95).
Velasquez received a B.A. (1969) from Bluffton College, Ohio, and an advanced degree in theology (1991) from Florida International Seminary.
Last updated January 1, 2005.