Our VoiceHealth & Environment

Tobacco Workers’ Lives At Risk, Reynolds Gets Richer


Jill Garvey • Jun 26, 2009

The hardships heaped upon tobacco harvesters are too many to list. Between exposure to heat, pesticides, nicotine, and discrimination, the lives of hundreds of workers in tobacco-producing states like North Carolina are at risk. RJ Reynolds, which controls the tobacco industry and ultimately controls the conditions for farmworkers, is one of the largest tobacco companies, producing one out of every three cigarettes sold in the US.

With their immense wealth, Reynolds could easily make a difference, but has chosen not to respond to the pleas of workers. Farmworkers Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) has repeatedly requested that Reynolds CEO, Suan Ivey meet with workers and she has not responded. FLOC then requested that Reynolds Director Holly Koeppel take the lead in moving the corporation to work with FLOC in resolving this issue. She also has refused to confront the issue.

The tobacco industry is perhaps the worst offender when it comes to corporations putting profit over people. For years tobacco executives lied to the their own consumers, one can only imagine how little they value the lives of poor workers.

Here is a short excerpt from the FLOC website, describing the fate of just one worker:

Urbano Ramirez came to N.C. to support his family living in poverty in the mountains of Guerrero. One of his greatest dreams was that his children be able to go to school. When he complained of symptoms of heat stroke, the supervisor told him to go rest under a tree, and was forgotten when the crew moved on. Two weeks later, his decomposing body was found under the same tree.

Want to prevent more death? Write, fax, and/or call Reynolds Tobacco, and ask them to meet with FLOC:

Susan Ivey, CEO
Reynolds American Inc.
401 North Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27102-28066
336-741-5000
FAX: 336-728-8973

(Please send a copy to FLOC, 1221 Broadway, Toledo OH 43609 or to FLOC Reynolds Campaign)

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