Swift Meat Veterans For Justice

It’s pretty rare to see Michelle, on the one hand, and the Wall Street Journal editors, on the other, agree on matters of immigration policy. Yet both seem convinced that the recent raids on the Swift & Company meat-packing plants were nothing but a cheap political stunt. You know, just pandering to the base.

To which I say, yes! Pander to me more!

Sure, it was only a drop in the bucket, and Swift wasn’t charged with anything. But even if the raid was only supposed to be a political stunt it’s now snowballed beyond that. Trial lawyers representing former Swift employees are churning up a $23 million lawsuit against Swift:

“These plaintiffs are … victims in a longstanding scheme by Swift to depress and artificially lower the wages of its workers by knowingly hiring illegal workers,” said their attorney, Angel Reyes. “By lessening its labor costs and increasing its profits, Swift has severely damaged the potential earnings and livelihood of these hardworking men and women.”…

“When the Swift plant opened in Cactus, wages were approximately $20 (euro15.27) an hour,” said another plaintiffs attorney, Michael Haygood. “Now, the average wage is approximately $12 (euro9.16) to $13 (euro9.93) an hour. Illegal immigration has fueled this depression in wages.”

This is one to watch, and the lawsuit means the raid was actually much more significant than it first appeared to be. If this sort of suit is viable, the risk of similar lawsuits might begin to offset the savings of hiring illegal workers. The plaintiffs say Swift “looked the other way”, Swift says they never “knowingly” hired illegal immigrants. Any lawyer types out there care to guess what the relevant standard would be, and what the plaintiffs would have to prove?