That's right – Agriprocessors and the Rubashkin family of Chabad hasidim can now add Sudanese Christians onto the list of workers they have exploited, lied to and abused.
As for the Somalis, why were dozens fired last week? One reason may be…
… their desire to pray 5 times per day. That conflicts with Agriprocessors' schedule, much in the way praying used to conflict with sweatshop and factory schedules 100 years ago – which caused many Jews to stop praying daily. Reaction to sweatshop and factory abuses helped to create America's labor unions.
Many of you will remember Menachem Lubinsky and other Agriprocessors spokespeople claimed new workers are given health insurance. However, according to the Sudanese, new workers do not qualify for health coverage for at least 3 months.
Now, on to the bait-and-switch:
Sudanese refugees find work, home in Postville after raid
By Jens Manuel Krogstad, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
POSTVILLE --- Ajou Ajou stands outside the old mattress factory on Main Street, hands in his pockets, pondering a life that has led him from the deserts of Sudan to a kosher meat processing plant in Iowa.
Behind him, inside what is now a Somali restaurant, two men perform Islamic prayer, called salah. They kneel on a green and gold embroidered rug and bow deeply until their foreheads touch the ground.
As a Christian in Sudan, Ajou says, sharing meals and coffee with Muslims was unheard of. Not so in Postville. Every day after work, African men of all faiths gather at the restaurant to eat and play cards.
Ajou, 33, left his wife and three young children 10 days ago in Amarillo, Texas, for the promise of a better paying job.
All summer, workers from across the country have arrived in Postville.
They come clutching pieces of paper that advertise jobs between $10 and $18 an hour. Those with previous industry experience, like Ajou, say recruiters tell them wages closer to $18 are all but guaranteed.
That has not been the case --- jobs always start at $10 an hour, the workers say, displaying pay stubs.
A spokesman for Jacobson Staffing, the staffing company hired by Agriprocessors, did not return a phone call last week. But company officials have previously said workers are eligible for raises if they perform well.
Yet when Ajou considers his employment at Agriprocessors, he does not complain as loudly as others.
"The United States is good," he says, a wide, easy smile breaking across his boyish face. "I don't want to go back home. The government is too bad. I was Christian, so they didn't like me."
Ajou grew up in a nation ruled by fundamentalist Islamic leaders. In 2001, in the midst of Sudan's decades-long civil war, he fled the African nation, having lost his father and three brothers to the conflict. Failing to find steady employment for several years in Egypt, he emigrated to the U.S. in 2006.
While Ajou can't complain, he also says life was better with his young family at his side.
He made $13 an hour in Texas skinning cows at a meat packing plant. Upon hearing of a job in Iowa that paid significantly more, he jumped on a bus and headed north, sure his family would soon follow.
Ajou recalls his wife's reaction when he broke the news to her of his new $10-an-hour job, and laughs. She was not happy.
"My wife said, come back. But I want to try here," he says. "I will wait to see if this place is good for me."
Ajou acknowledges, after some prodding, that sometimes things are not good. Supervisors yell at workers --- something that rarely happened at his old job. In addition to lower wages, his family now squeaks by with no health insurance, because benefits won't kick in for three months.
A couple of hours after the Islamic prayer, a group of men sit in folding chairs laughing at Somali comedians on a portable DVD player.
At another table, four men twirl spaghetti around their fingers before stuffing it in their wide-open mouths. The platter, served in lidded Styrofoam containers, also features goat meat. They wash the meal down with orange soda, before scrubbing their greasy fingers in a nearby sink.
The man serving the meals, who identified himself only as "A.K.," says the men don't pay for the $10 meals. Rather, he establishes a tab for them. The men complain of the steep price tag, he says, but the owner feels backed into a corner.
Last week, much of the restaurant's customer base left town when dozens of Somalis were fired from Agriprocessors. After an investment of tens of thousands of dollars, the restaurant sits half constructed --- freshly painted walls and new carpet, but few tables and chairs and no cash register. The big purchase, a large commercial stove, sits in back gathering dust.
Another recent arrival, Johnson Manyang, 21, explains that new workers are left with little money for their labor until they pay off their first month's rent and deposit, so they put their meals on a tab.
Like his roommate Ajou, he immigrated from Sudan in 2001. And like Ajou, he was lured from his meat packing job in Texas on the promise of higher wages.
He jumped at the opportunity because his family --- mom, dad, seven brothers and a sister --- recently purchased their first home in the Houston area.
To pay the $1,300-a-month mortgage, he and his brothers took jobs at a nearby meat packing plant.
"I worked at Swift (a plant in Texas) for two years. Then I hear about this good job --- they pay your rent, pay you good money. So I quit my job," he says.
Like Ajou, he laughs when he considers his reality.
[Hat Tip: Archie.]