UPDATE: Governor Signs N.C. Farm Bill into Law; Unions Vow Legal Challenge


By: Paul H. Derrick

The ink was barely dry on Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature on the Farm Act of 2017 when leaders of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and other unions vowed to take legal action to stop the implementation of the law.

As we recently noted, FLOC says the new law would cripple its efforts to collect dues and to organize farmworkers. The Farm Act makes it a violation of the state’s public policy for farms to be required to collect membership dues from employees and forward them along to a union, even if the union and the farm have executed a collective bargaining agreement that requires such dues collection. The law also makes it a violation of public policy for a union to persuade a farm to enter into a union contract as a means of settling a lawsuit or avoiding litigation in the first place.

In a prepared statement posted on FLOC’s website, union president Baldemar Velasquez said that “Gov. Cooper chose to be on the wrong side of history.” He went on to say that “the fight is not yet over. We plan to challenge this [law] in the courts.” Meanwhile, FLOC has planned rallies and press conferences to enlist public support for its cause, and state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer MaryBe McMillan has pledged the assistance of the unions in her organization, as well.

North Carolina consistently ranks at or near the bottom among all states in terms of percentage of workers being represented by a union. For decades, state officials on both sides of the political aisle have joined with pro-business interests to tout North Carolina’s relatively union-free environment as a major factor in attracting new business to the state.

We will continue to keep you apprised of developments in this area as they occur. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Derrick at