Trump’s ICE Gets Hundreds of Black Workers Jobs and Raises at Chicago Bakery

Earlier: Case Study: Trump Enforcement Disrupts Cloverhill Bakery’s Helot Labor Business Model—But Why No Arrests?

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

At major Northwest Side bakery, labor issues pit blacks vs. Hispanics Frank Main and Dan Mihalopoulos

A major bakery on the Northwest Side [of Chicago] once known for making Little Debbie snack cakes was sold earlier this month after an immigration audit cost the company about a third of its workers.

About 800 employees of the main Cloverhill Bakery on the Northwest Side and the company’s bakeries in Cicero and Romeoville lost their jobs when the audit found many were hired after presenting fake or stolen IDs. …

Aryzta bought Cloverhill in 2014. At the time, according to bakery employees and community organizers, most of the employees were natives of Mexico, most who’d been hired through Labor Network, a temporary-employment agency.

But many of those workers weren’t temporary in the dictionary sense of the word. Most were so-called “permatemps” — temp workers who actually were permanently employed at Cloverhill. Most had been there for years, at least, and some for decades.

Maybe Robert Mueller, after nailing small-time identity theft grifter Richard Pinedo, could pay attention to this kind of massive identity scam?

In 2015, under the Obama administration, ICE inspected the documentation of Labor Network’s employees at Cloverhill. In May 2017, the Trump administration sent letters to about 800 employees, saying they weren’t authorized to work in the United States, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Those Hispanic employees didn’t return to work, leaving the bakery desperate to fill their jobs. So the company turned to another placement agency, Metro Staff Inc., and it provided Cloverhill with workers screened through the government’s “E-Verification” program. Most of those new employees are African American.

Ed French, owner of Elgin-based Metro Staff Inc., says his company became the main provider of workers for the bakery and that about 80 percent of them are black. …

According to a former consultant to the bakery, MSI paid the black workers $14 an hour, versus the $10 an hour the Mexican workers were making through Labor Network.

The consultant, Felix Okwusa, says the bakery offered its remaining Hispanic workers a $1-an-hour premium to train the black replacement workers.

But Okwusa says Cloverhill soon ran into problems. In a memo to the company, Okwusa, who is African American, wrote that the black workers “displayed a higher turnover rate of over 40 percent and a lower efficiency rate than their Hispanic co-workers.” …

Lynne Lane, a union steward at Cloverhill, says there are tensions as the two groups work side by side. Lane, who is black, says it was black workers at the bakery who called a government hotline to report the Mexican workers to immigration authorities.

“It was [African American] workers in the plant that saw, you know, like I said, that had been treated unfairly and treated like secondary-class citizens” by Hispanic workers, Lane says. “So it was a whole lot of employees in the company. Well, they was given a number, as far as I know. They was given a number to call … to call Immigration.”

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