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The Labor Forum team on WRFG 89.3FM sends our strong solidarity with all workers on the Labor Day holiday.
The workers, many of them members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), were employed by a company called Koch Foods Inc, which employs 13,000 workers throughout the US. (Koch Foods INC has no connection or relation to the billionaire political donor Koch Brothers).
The UFCW, which represents workers at the plant, has been meeting with community groups and immigrants rights activists to mobilize community and legal support on behalf of the workers.
As buses full of poultry workers arrived pulled up to the Mississippi National Guard base at Flowood, Mississippi 70 family members and supporters families gathered shouting at the armed guards, “Let Them Go! Let Them Go!” as workers were taken into the makeshift detention facility.
The detention suffered by immigrants is yet another abuse suffered by immigrant poultry workers employed by Koch Foods Inc in Morton, Mississippi.
In 2018, following a nearly eight-year-long legal battle, Koch Foods Inc. settled a $3.5 million brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Koch Food Inc at the plant. The lawsuit alleged that Koch Foods Inc supervisors engaged in both racial and sexual harassment of Latina workers at its Morton, Mississippi plant.
The lawsuit brought by the EEOC against Koch Food Inc’s alleged “that supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities.”
As part of its settlement, Koch Foods Inc. agreed to a three-year federal consent decree to change its discriminatory practices. As part of the consent decree, Koch Foods Inc. was forced to create a 24-hour-a-day bilingual hotline for workers to use to file complaints.
Many immigrants rights advocates have speculated that workers are targeted for raids after their facilities get investigated for worker abuse.
In June of 2018, ICE raided a unionized Fresh Mark meatpacking plant in Salem, Ohio; arresting 140 workers.
A week before the raid on a Fresh Mark’s Salem facility, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Fresh Mark $211,194 for three separate incidents in which proper guards for dangerous machinery were not in place. OSHA found that the lack of safety guards resulted in the death of an undocumented worker.
In December of 2017, Domingo Ramos, a 49-year-old undocumented worker from Guatemala, was killed in the plant when his foot was sucked into a rotating auger, ripping off his lower leg and leading to him bleeding to death.
Suspicious was also raised that workers complaining about working conditions in plants at the Southeastern Provision in Morristown, Tennesse led to a raid. The raid came after federal authorities were tipped off by a local bank that the owner of the plant may have been paying undocumented workers under the table.
While it’s unclear if the raids are being triggered by federal authorities responding to the mistreatment of workers, the overall effect of these raids has had a chilling effect on workers speaking out.
“These raids send a real signal to immigrant workers not to speak up, and we feel like these raids enable employers in the most dangerous industry to cut corners and violate labor standards,” said Debbie Berkowitz, who served as chief of staff of OSHA under Obama from 2009 to 2013 and now serves as the director of the worker health and safety program at the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Doors open at 3 with a sizzling Latin set by José Jimenez, which includes a salsa lesson from Sean at salsaatl.com!!
After that, DJ BabySlim will bring his special collection of selections to the dance floor.
Followed by The Rinse Out’s DJ Elevation, whose set will definitely move you!
Restaurants “Side Chick” and “My Parents’ Basement” are offering yummy treats for plant based and omnivorous diners alike
And, there will be WRFG merchandise for purchase…check out our WRFG T-shirts. We just got a fresh batch!!
We’ll see you there!!
Gary Washington, ardent WRFG supporter, former Board member, initiator and producer of The Labor Forum, Teamster shop steward, militant ant-racist, defender of workers’ rights, generous human being and so much more died on Wednesday, July 3.
He had been dealing with multiple health issues for some time. The family has not yet announced funeral arrangements or the date of a public memorial. But on Monday, July 8, The Labor Forum will offer a tribute to Gary’s remarkable contributions to people’s struggles.
Charlie Fleming, president of the Georgia State AFL-CIO will be joined by WRFG airshifters and staff to share their memories of Gary.
Gary would often close his program with “Don’t Mourn, ORGANIZE!” and so shall we.
The program will air from 4-5pm at 89.3FM, online at wrfg.org and is available on the station’s mobile app.
Gary Washington, presente!