Baldemar Velásquez was born and raised as a migrant farm worker from South Texas.
In 1967, at the age of twenty, Velásquez along with his father and a small group of farm- workers, tired of the mistreatment formed the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.
In 1978 he started an eight-year strike and boycott of the Campbell Soup Company that culminated in the first multi-party contracts in labor history-between farmworkers, farmers and numerous industrial produce corporations. These were the first supply-chain agreements in labor history achieving precedent-setting human rights reforms. After Campbell Soup, many other manufacturers followed with similar agreements, Heinz USA, Vlasic Pickles, Dean Foods and their subsidiaries Aunt Jane Pickles and Green Bay Foods.
In 2004 he culminated a five year struggle with the Mt.Olive Pickle Company in North Carolina in signing a blockbuster agreement covering 8000 “guest workers” from Mexico working on over 800 farms in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia. The agreements brought fair treatment and humane working and living conditions for the impoverished farm workers.
His leadership and humanitarian contributions have been recognized by many groups, including the National Hispanic Heritage Award for leadership bestowed by thirty-three national Latino organizations, the National Council of La Raza, the Midwest Academy the National Council of Churches, and the US Council of Catholic Bishops. Velásquez also has been the recipient of the prestigious John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Bannerman Fellowship.
Included among his many honors is the Aguila Azteca Medal, the highest award presented by the Mexican government to a non-citizen. Referred to as “the Mexican Eagle,” the medal was given to Velásquez for being an “outstanding social fighter of Mexican origin”.
The first member of his family to graduate from college, Velásquez earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Bluffton College in 1969. He then went on to earn advanced degrees in practical theology and was ordained as a chaplain to farmworkers by Rapha Ministries in 1991. He has published several articles and collaborated on books that address the plight of migrant farmworkers.
He is also a singer-songwriter and recorded 2 albums of which 100% of the proceeds go to the non-profit Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice (CMWJ). The CMWJ is an educating and training organization that partners with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in its campaigns to bring justice to farm workers and immigrant
Learn more about Baldemar Velásquez on the Farm Labor Organizing Committee website.
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