Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How Will Librarians Help Union Workers at Swift?

How will Librarians Help Union Workers at Swift?

The Immigration Debate
Who is the Public the Library Meant to Serve?

How do librarians connect our idealistic resource development--"Becoming American – New Immigration Stories" to human rights crises, like this?

New York Times reports: More than 1,000 agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement appeared at 6 a.m. at Swift plants with warrants to search for illegal immigrants.The immigration agency raided plants in Hyrum, Utah; Greeley, Colo.; Cactus, Tex.; Grand Island, Neb.; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minn.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which organizes employees at five of the six plants issued this press release:

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is seeking an immediate injunction in federal court, today, on behalf of workers employed by Swift and Company packing operations in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

The workers were subjected to a wholesale round up, including detention, by Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

“Essentially, the agents stormed the plants, many of them in riot gear, in an effort designed to terrorize the workforce,” said Mark Lauritsen, director of the UFCW Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing division.

The UFCW represents workers at the Swift and Company plants, as well as other major packers around the country.

“This kind of action is totally uncalled for,” said Lauritsen. “It’s designed to punish workers for working hard everyday, contributing to the success of their companies and communities. They are innocent victims in an immigration system that has been hijacked by corporations for the purpose of importing an exploitable workforce.”

For years, the UFCW has called for comprehensive immigration reform—reform that provides an orderly immigration process that protects worker rights, ensures good wages and benefits for all workers, and recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our society.

“We are advising all the detained workers to exercise their right to an attorney and remain silent until they confer with counsel. These actions today by ICE are an affront to decency.”


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