International Workers Day: Rally for Dairy Workers Rights

On Friday May 1st. 2015 Workers’ Center of CNY members, The Worker Justice Center of NY and the May First Agricultural Workers Committee organized a rally to speak up against violence in the workplace. Workers and allies traveled from Rochester, Syracuse, Sodus, Carthage and as far as Long Island and NY City to join local farm workers in the area of Lowville, where  a month ago Francisco was beat up and fired by the supervisor at one of the biggest farms in Upstate New York.

Workers lead the rally with chants like “Marks Farms escucha, estamos en la lucha” “Marks Farms listen, we are in the struggle” We want to thank all of the people who came to show support for Francisco and all workers. The leaders of the May First Agricultural committee and Francisco thank all of you.

Workers’ voices:

“No se dejen que los encargados o los dueños los humillen. Por que ustedes (trabajadores) se están ganando el sueldo trabajando y los dueños no se los están regalando. Si los encargados los golpean, les gritan o humillan hagan algo. Vayan en grupo, júntense y hablen. Todos somos humanos.”

Don’t let the supervisors or the owners humilliate you. You are working for your money, it is not a gift. If the supervisors beat you up, scream at you or humilliate you, do something. Go in groups, get together and speak up. We are all humans. – Mensaje de Francisco/ Message from Francisco, injured worker victim of violence in the workplace.

“Si no fuera por nuestra mano de obra no estaría este país rico.
A los patrones les importa más las vacas pero sin nuestra mano de obra no hay leche. Sin trabajadores como nosotros quien va a ordeñar las vacas?”

If it weren’t because of our labor this country wouldn’t be prosperous. The owners are more concerned with the cows but without our labor there is no milk. Without workers like us, who is going to milk the cows?

– Trabajador de Lowville/ Worker in Lowville

Here is the letter we delivered to the owners of Marks Farms:

Lowville, NY May 1, 2015

Dear Marks Farms’ owners:

Today, Friday May first of 2015 we have come to your farm to bring a message to you, to the local politicians, to the authorities and the community in general. Our message is also a message of solidarity for your workers.

People who are here today are dairy workers (some of whom have worked at your farm), community members like students, union members, church members, some people belong to this community and others come from far away. Some people are immigrants and some people were born in this country. We are worried about our brothers and sisters who work here and in the whole dairy industry.

On March 24th Michael Tabolt, one of your supervisors, assaulted one of your workers named Francisco. Francisco was seriously beaten up. He was dragged and thrown to the ground several times in front of his co-workers. He called the Workers’ Center for assistance while he was in a lot of pain. Fortunately there were people who took him to the hospital. Then, scared but determined that it was necessary to speak up so this will not happen to anyone else, he gave his testimony to the police.

Francisco told us that March 24 was his day off but still there was a knock on his door telling him to go to work because your farm was short staffed. Since all dairy workers work long hours and do very hard work, the only thing he did was to complain because they did not respect his day off. Workers, like milking cows, want to rest. They need to rest to recover and live.

Our message comes with the following requests:

  1. Fire the supervisor who assaulted Francisco. It is not fair that Francisco was fired and Michael Tabolt continues to work here. Is the right of all workers to have a safe workplace?
  2. Treat workers as human beings. Just like you ask workers to not mistreat cows, workers should not experience violence in the workplace.
  3. Safe working conditions and higher wages for your workers.

Workers will be happier and more content if you treat them better. Please treat your workers with dignity and respect.


Letter delivered with signatures of community members present at the Rally for Dignity and Respect on May 1st. 2015 in front of Mark Farms Lowville, NY

We expect a response from Marks Farms as well as a full investigation from the authorities. We want justice for all workers.

We also expressed our solidarity with workers in San Quintin, Mexico and Washington who are organizing for justice.


Solidarity with San Quintin Workers from Mexico
Solidarity with San Quintin Workers from Mexico