Saturday, July 5, 2008

Arrests Made in Postville IA

We've been watching this story since the raids against the Postville meat processing plant happened--and now there are arrests and charges that a veritable fake documents ring was operating on the processing floor:

The arrest warrant was issued for Hosam Amara, 43. In interviews after the raid, several workers said Mr. Amara was a floor manager with more authority than line supervisors. They said he was a link between workers on the slaughterhouse floors and meatpacking lines and more senior management.

Agriprocessors, which before the raid was the country’s largest producer of kosher meat, is owned by Aaron Rubashkin. Two weeks after the raid, he removed his son Sholom as chief executive.

Most of the illegal immigrants arrested at the plant were from rural Guatemala. In expedited proceedings, 270 workers were sent to federal prison on criminal charges, most for presenting false documents when they were hired.

In a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, federal authorities said Mr. [Juan Carlos]Guerrero was the supervisor of four departments in the Postville plant, including a slaughterhouse called Beef Kill. Workers cited anonymously in the complaint said Mr. Guerrero was running a business obtaining fraudulent immigration documents, known as green cards.

In the days before the raid, the workers said, according to the complaint, Mr. Guerrero told them in a meeting that “they needed new IDs and Social Security numbers to continue working at the company.” Mr. Guerrero collected $200 and a photograph from each worker, promising to provide new documents, the complaint says.

Obviously, we can't have something like that going on. Perhaps a comprehensive reform of the laws is in order. Oh, and a union would be one way to try and ensure that the workers aren't being taken advantage of by management--but you can't be pro-union in this country anymore, can you? Well, too bad--despite the wingnut fantasies about corrupt unions, they are needed now more than ever--especially when immigrants are being ripped off, handed phony documents by a manager, and working for next to nothing.

What no one in this country wants to talk about are the hundreds of thousands of people being worked to death in food processing plants for lousy pay with no benefits while the owners reap unprecedented profits and exploit vulnerable people. It's an outrage that we have a third world food processing plant system in this country.


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