Video of Labor Goon Slugging Labor Organizer
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The very essence of the slave system of agriculture was that the owner of the land upon which the crops and animals were grown had all the power and the people who worked on the farms had none. After a long period of relative freedom for workers, that state of affairs has very nearly been restored in much of the United States with the blessings of the federal government through its H-2A foreign guest worker program.
Nowhere is the current imbalance of power better illustrated than in a video that was surreptitiously shot by a worker on July 9 in North Carolina and then posted on YouTube by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) of the AFL-CIO. You can watch as the landowner stands casually with his hands in his pockets in front of a group of foreign workers as a representative of Stan Eury’s North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA), who looks like the reincarnation of Simon Legree, himself, berates the workers.
About midway through the video, the NCGA rep, Paul Saffle, who is speaking in Spanish that is only faintly picked up by the video, begins to read the names of workers who have sought assistance from the FLOC. His purpose is clearly intimidation. Saffle takes exception to some words by the union rep, Oscar Sanchez, an older, smaller man who is standing about 20 feet to one side. To reinforce his demand for silence from Sanchez, Saffle strides over and punches him in the face.
We learn from FLOC’s July 21 update of its earlier article that Saffle lost his job as a result of the incident. The episode, including the video, has also been reported on the left-liberal gatekeeper web site, Buzzfeed, and the web site of Democratic Socialists of America entitled Talking Union. The mainstream press has apparently blacked out news of the incident, however. We could find no mention of it on any of the web sites of North Carolina’s newspapers or television stations. Without any such media pressure, it’s a pretty good bet that Saffle will not be charged with assault by local law enforcement officials, when his guilt is patently obvious from the video.
Not even the three web sites that we found who covered the incident raised the question of the criminality of Saffle’s actions, nor did they mention the complicity of the landowner standing at his side in apparent approval. Buzzfeed’s only contribution is to elaborate a bit further on what “provoked” Saffle to act. Like FLOC, they note that Sanchez corrected Saffle’s pronunciation of a name, but they note further that Sanchez asked, “What are you going to fix, man? What are you going to fix?” It was at that point that Saffle showed that what he was going to fix was Sanchez’s impertinence.
The biggest omission of all in the coverage given to the incident is the failure to give us any background information on Saffle’s employer, the NCGA. We would never know that the head of the organization is under federal indictment for abusing the H-2B system for non-farm workers and that, as I detail in “Has Obama Gone Bulworth on Alien Smuggling?”, the NCGA has been guilty of the same thing for years.
The FLOC coverage also conceals the connection between the NCGA abuses and the situation that led up to the incident on the video. The foreign workers had sought assistance from FLOC because there was insufficient work for them to make enough money even to feed themselves. FLOC says it is because of the weather, but, in fact, the weather in North Carolina’s tobacco regions has been excellent this year. The NCGA every year brings in far more laborers than there is work for. That is the very first item in the list supplied to me by an informant in North Carolina’s Employment Security Commission (ESC), “NCGA would always submit orders for the capacity of the farmer's camp. Many former cucumber growers would have camps with 20-40 person capacity. The farmer would actually be requesting less than half the camp capacity, primarily for the highly mechanized tobacco crop.”
Par for the Course
If the surplus of workers and the hardship they suffer is no aberration, one can be fairly certain that the abusive behavior exhibited by Saffle—backed up by the landowner—is no aberration, either. The only aberration is that it happened to be filmed. Saffle acts like a man who is used to getting by with such things. And, in a sense, he has gotten by with it again. We are told by NCGA and FLOC that he has resigned, but we can be pretty sure that a man with his demonstrated talents will be able to find work in today’s farm and immigration environment, if, in fact, NCGA has not already just transferred him to Mexico.
The worst thing that the episode tells us, if the reporters on it do not, is that the NCGA, in spite of the federal indictment of Stan Eury and his daughter in January, is continuing to get by with what it does. Just this past April, the Associated Press rewarded it with what we called an “Infomercial,” which praised the organization as the holder of the key to solve America’s (imaginary) farm labor problem. That widely distributed article, like the current website coverage of the slugging incident, made no mention of the Eury indictment. The NCGA is also continuing to get by with abusing foreign workers as shown by the complete blackout by the mainstream press of this recent documented assault of a union man that puts one in mind of scenes from Matewan, Norma Rae, or On the Waterfront.
The great continuing excuse for the abusive program—whose biggest abuse is its contribution to the illegal alien problem—is that the imported workers are brought here to do the jobs that Americans won’t do. To be sure, they won’t do them for the wages and slave-like conditions under which the imported workers are expected to labor. In case the bad conditions were not enough, one of the federal charges against Eury is that he instructed employers on tailoring their worker requests so that American workers would not apply for the jobs.
As contrary to the common good as Eury’s NCGA has proved to be, and with the federal indictment hanging over his head, job orders approved by the ESC for NCGA this year are at a record high, according to my ESC informants. That’s something else we won’t learn from the web sites covering the assault incident or from the mainstream media.
July 29, 2014
See also “H-2A Kingpin Stumbles on H-2B.”