Neither is an outstanding debater, but Bill Bryan and Baldemar Velasquez are both effective at getting their points across. Recently, Bryan, the CEO of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, and Velasquez, the founder/president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, met for a 90-minute debate at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
FLOC has called on consumers to boycott Mt. Olive products as part of an effort to get Bryan to spearhead a union effort to improve the plight of farm workers who harvest the cucumbers used in Mt. Olive products. Bryan has maintained that his company pays a fair price for cucumbers and says that farm workers should take their complaints directly to farmers. Mt. Olive, he says, does not have direct accountability for how farm workers are treated.
For Velasquez, whose father died at age 56 “with a broken body from doing that stoop labor all his life,” the only way to improve the plight of farm workers is for corporations to pay more money for the produce. “The growers aren’t the problem,” Velasquez says. “They don’t set the prices.”
The ante was probably upped Monday night. More than 250 people, most of them pro-FLOC, filled the Pullen sanctuary, along with a reporter from The New York Times. National press is what FLOC needs to give strength to a boycott effort that will have to extend throughout the South Atlantic states for its effort to have a chance of success.