And that consultant is the professor-translator who blew the whistle…
…in the New York Times on the government's handling of these workers' cases, pointing out that many of them are illiterate in both Spanish and English and could not tell the difference between green cards and social security cards.
These workers pleaded guilty to crimes they could not have committed without significant help from Agriprocessors.
And, while parts of the US Government move to prosecute Agriprocessors, other parts – like the lumbering, Frankenstein-like ICE under the questionably competent rule of Michael Chertoff – couldn't care less.
ICE would rather deport illiterate Guatemalan peasants than convict the men and women who committed the real crimes, as if sheer numbers of human beings convicted is more important more than who those human beings are and what crimes they have actually committed.
If ICE were turned loose against the Mob, it would arrest hundreds of paperboys and shipping clerks. Tony Soprano would have nothing to fear.
The Des Moines Register reports:
Consultant: Postville ex-workers unpaid
BY GRANT SCHULTE
At least 25 immigrants arrested during a May immigration raid at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville still have not been paid for their final days of work, according to a consultant to the Guatemalan consulate who has interviewed 42 of the ex-employees in prison.
The consultant, Erik Camayd-Freixas, said workers told him that they routinely underreported the number of hours they worked at Agriprocessors because plant managers "wanted to avoid evidence of infringement of labor regulations."
Agriprocessors owes the 25 former employees compensation for time worked and unused vacation, Camayd-Freixas said. The lengths of time range from 14 hours to more than two weeks of vacation, he said.
A spokesman for Agriprocessors referred questions to plant manager Chaim Abrahams. Abrahams did not return a phone message left Monday afternoon.
The workers, who have nearly completed five-month prison sentences in fraud-related charges, were among 389 detained in May in one of the largest single-site immigration raids in U.S. history.
The workers sent to prison are scheduled for release on Friday, at which time the government will return them to their home countries.…
The story goes on to note the the UFCW Union continues to be concerned that the ICE raid and its aftermath are destroying the preexisting federal Department of Labor investigation into illegal labor practices at Agriprocessors:
A spokesman for a national labor union, meanwhile, reiterated concerns Monday that the raid could threaten a separate investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor into alleged federal workplace violations.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao days after the raid, expressing concern that the raid could remove witnesses and undermine the federal investigation of the company's labor practices.
"This was our big concern," said Scott Frotman, a spokesman for the union. "We knew there was some ongoing investigation prior to the raid."
The federal labor investigation faced a hurdle last week when government lawyers sought to interview the workers through depositions without the usual 20-day notice.
The request came from a mistaken belief that the immigrant workers - potential witnesses - were scheduled for release on Nov. 1. Labor Department lawyers wanted to depose at least nine workers.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Jon Scoles on Thursday allowed the depositions to proceed. In his five-page ruling, Scoles warned that he "makes no judgment, however, regarding whether the deposition testimony will be admissible in further proceedings."
A spokesman for the Department of Labor could not be reached.…
I must say that, when the union's concerns were first made public in May, I thought they were laughable.
I don't think so any longer.
The Department of Labor has been slow and seemingly less than compitant. ICE, while it managed to pull off a couple high profile raids, is no better. Neither agency communicates well with each other or with other parts of the government – including law enforcement agencies.
If the government's cases against Agriprocessors fail on technicalities like missed depositions, you'll know why.