Tobacco workers in the U.S. South are primarily migrant workers from Mexico who suffer from inhumane working and living conditions. Many work without legal documentation and are vulnerable to exploitation. On average, they earn one-third of the federal poverty level for a family of four. Half of their households cannot afford to feed their families, and more than one-third of housing is severely inadequate or unfit for human habitation. Tobacco workers frequently suffer from acute nicotine poisoning, as well as heat stroke and pesticide exposure. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee represents ten of thousands of farmworkers in the U.S. and is currently leading a national campaign on behalf of tobacco workers in North Carolina. This presentation has a twofold objective: first, to offer a view of FLOC’s strategic plan to achieve human/labor rights for migrant workers; and second, to show a case study in which college students conduct community-based research in partnership with FLOC to achieve the organization’s goals. Specifically, students collaborate in research activities to better understand causes of migrant worker conditions and apply these understandings to projects that aim to achieve social change. One group is researching best fundraising practices in order to develop a sustained fundraising strategy for colleges. Another group is working on public advocacy by mobilizing broad based community support. Some students are researching key advisory board members of Reynolds America Inc. in order to hold them accountable for abuses in the corporation’s supply chain. Others are researching best strategies for blogging in order to effectively disseminate this information. By exploring this community-based research experience, this presentation offers an academic model for bringing theory of human / labor rights to practice at the college level.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/clara_roman-odio/15/