Day: August 17, 2019

Koch Foods undocumented poultry workers were actively recruited to be exploited- they were sexually harassed and hit on the job, then arrested for reporting abuses.

“By the 1990s, businesses began aggressively recruiting Latin American immigrants to fill their labor needs, luring them to rural Mississippi from places such as El Paso and Miami.

One company, since acquired by Koch Foods, dubbed the campaign the “Hispanic Project,” which resulted in a 1,000 percent increase in Scott County’s Latino population, where two of the raided plants are located, in a decade.

‘EEOC alleges 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,” an EEOC release reads. “Further, a class of Hispanic employees was subject to retaliation in the form of discharge and other adverse actions after complaining.'”

Read more from the Washington Post article here.

“Low-Wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor History” by Angela Steusse

Angela Steusse traces the history of the Scott County, MS poultry industry in this article: 
1950s: Only white workers worked in the plants. 
1960s: As white workers sought better jobs and pay, black workers were integrated into the industry and given the worst jobs at a lower pay
1970s-80s: Black workers organized into unions to fight for better conditions 
1990s: After the IRCA employers sanctions was passed, employers went to Guatemala and Mexico to actively recruit undocumented immigrants to work in the MS poultry plants.
2000s: Immigrant workers start organizing with unions for better conditions. 
2019: ICE targets poultry workers at Koch Foods plants after they won an EEOC settlement for sexual harassment.

Read more from Angela Steusse’s article in Southern Spaces to see how the poultry industry pitted one race against each other to persistently depress wages and conditions of workers here.