convention lasted Sept. 8 through 9 with FLOC delegates meeting
Friday in committees.
Saturday and Sunday consisted of meetings starting at 9 a.m.,
where the organization votes on various issues and invites new
Additional to the convention, FLOC members, along with the
community, participated in a march/rally beginning at 4:30 p.m.
on Saturday with around 400 supporters attending, to demonstrate
solidarity against hate groups and racism. The march started at
the SeaGate Centre and worked its way through downtown, all the
way to the federal court building on Spielbusch Avenue.
march was really to bring attention to the racial hatred around
the country,” said Baldemar Velásquez, the president of
FLOC. “The emergence out of the shadows and into the mainstream
of the Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan and other white hate groups.
This is not the America that we want.”
of the main goals of the march, according to Velásquez, was to
make sure that “Toledo, Ohio doesn’t become another
Charlottesville.” “We live with these terror tactics all of the
history of FLOC,” Velásquez said.
continued citing numerous cases of hate and intimidation the
group faced, including having a cross burned, cars getting
keyed, and entrails of farm animals being nailed to supporters’
front doors. “We need to call attention to this behavior and
this mentality that has no place here in Toledo,” Velásquez
Other than the march, according the Velásquez, the most
important legislation passed during the convention was the
decision to boycott electronic cigarettes and all VUSE
legislation is both a boycott and a secondary boycott, according
to Velásquez, which means avoiding shopping at all stores that
sell VUSE products as well as avoiding purchasing these items.
have been pressing the global tobacco companies to negotiate
with FLOC in a supply chain agreement to guarantee freedom of
association and the right of workers to form their own unions.”
Velásquez said. “Outside of FLOC, the agricultural workers
are excluded from the federal law that allows unions to be
organized. They have excluded them [the farmworkers] since
Velásquez said the group also elected officers and highlighted
some of the new board members and leaders. These new board
member included: Christina Velásquez-Wagner, as
secretary-treasurer, and Justin Flores, as Vice
“[Flores] He’s been with us for nine years, has risen through
the positions to the number two spot. He's really a bright young
Latino,” Velásquez said, “Christina Velásquez-Wagner is my
daughter; she’s modernizing the entire accounting system at FLOC
and making it all electronic.”
theme of the event—50 Years of Constant Struggle—was
created in meetings where members were asked to reflect on how
best to summarize the organization according to Velásquez. “The
big difference is this: not only do we challenge the structural
inequalities, but when we take on the struggle, people are
convinced that we’re not going to go away,” Velásquez said.
“They know that when FLOC starts a campaign we aren’t going to
pack up and go away and leave them stranded.”
Velásquez said that this, along with the fact that the leaders
are forced to be visible in the front lines of the movement, is
what allows people to have hope in the future of the
organization and what led to them surviving for so long.
believe in nonviolence, but that doesn’t mean being a
pushover. It means standing up in the face of oppression and
exploitation. Whether it's a labor contractor or a farmer... you
stand up to him!” President Velásquez concluded.