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CBS News

Union Leaders Respond to ICE Raid

The largest workplace raid in US history targeted chicken plants represented by UFCW

Brian Young's picture
Aug 08, 2019

Children and family members gathered outside of the National Guard base in Mississippi on Thursday desperately waiting for news on the status of their parents, of their husbands, and of their wives. The base is holding over 600 workers who were detained on Wednesday by ICE after the largest immigration raid in history targeted 7 chicken plants in Mississippi.

The raids, which happened on Wednesday morning right after parents dropped off their children for the first day of school, targeted chicken plants owned by Koch Foods and Peco Foods. The raids have gained significant attention as they far exceeded any workplace raid in our country’s history.

In 2018, following a nearly eight-year-long legal battle, Koch Foods Inc. settled a $3.75 million lawsuit 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 two plants are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW.) Immediately after the raid the UFCW released a statement saying “Our top priority right now is to provide whatever assistance and counsel we can to any of our impacted members and their families,” said UFCW spokesperson Abraham White. “Workers across this country are too scared to stand up for their rights and to report wage theft, dangerous work conditions, and other workplace issues. We must act now to end this dangerous climate of fear.”

In the hours that followed some labor leaders have spoken up to condemn the raids. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said on Twitter:

“The Teamsters Union is speaking up in support of hardworking union members and their right to a fair and secure workplace,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “The assault on workers must stop now. We want UFCW members and all our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to know that we support you. Our strength is in our unity, and we are calling for an end to policies that hurt workers and tear families apart. An attack on any one worker is an attack on our shared goal of lifting up all workers in our country. We need comprehensive immigration reform, but we also need humane policies that respect workers and their families.”

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