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Democrat Applauds ICE Raid On NC Plant Which Fosters American Jobs
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July 22, 2009, 01:09 AM
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Well, what do you know. The obvious has happened. Fortunately, our friends at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) did not let the chance pass to make allow Jerry Kammer, a Senior Research Fellow at the Center to do an in depth review and report on the circumstances of the January 2007, raid by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency on the Smithfield Plant in Tar Heel, N.C.. As Mr. Kammer reports, this raid "drastically changed the demographics of the plant, shifting from a mostly illegal Hispanic workforce to a legal African American workforce. The plant`s workers were able to unionize in the aftermath, something the previous workforce had failed to do twice prior to the raid." No neophyte summer intern, this reporter, before joining CIS was with Copley New Service where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. He has covered immigration and border issues for more than 20 years. The details are fascinating and can be read in full at "Immigration Raids at Smithfield: How an ICE Enforcement Action Boosted Union Organizing and the Employment of American Workers". However, the summary of the sequence of events from Kammer gives us the picture of events before the unionization and insights into the varied reasons workers were able to solidify backing for the union. Here`s this seminal story, from the CIC press release, which could with proper enforcement be repeated in many places all over the US. Please, Secretary Napolitano, take note. 1. The Smithfield Plant, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), failed to unionize in both 1994 and 1997. An administrative law judge found that the company committed "egregious and pervasive violations of labor law" during the 1997 effort when it used the employees` illegal status to threaten them. 2. After the initial attempts at unionizing, Smithfield and the UFCW engaged in a bitter dispute. The union launched a public relations campaign and picketed Smithfield customers. Smithfield, in return, filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the union. 3. The ICE raid, which took place in January 2007, both purged the plant of illegal workers and forced the management to set procedures to check immigration status of future hires. 4. This raid opened the door for an American and legal immigrant workforce. After the raid, the Hispanic workforce dropped by approximately 1,000 workers and was replaced by mostly African American workers. Less than two years later, in December 2008, the new workforce voted for unionization. Now I would think that this story would greatly please our new Administration and its Democratic Congress. Unemployment at almost 10%, sure to go higher, citizen employees with secure jobs (wasn`t that what this stimulus was supposed to do) spending, and joining the consumer engine which drives 70% of our economy. Great. Lets see it happen again, Secretary Napolitano!