Unions: Swift & Co. Hiring More Whites

Oskar Garcia, AP, Dec. 19, 2006

Fewer Hispanic immigrants are being hired to replace meatpacking workers arrested at Swift & Co. plants in Grand Island, Neb., and Greeley, Colo., during last week’s immigration raid, union officials said Tuesday.

Local 22 union president Dan Hoppes said Tuesday that 40 to 50 new workers have been hired at the Grand Island plant since the raids.

“The lion’s share of those people were Caucasian,” Hoppes said.

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“They’re trying to staff up their plants and they’ve been raising their wages the past few weeks,” said United Food and Commercial Workers spokeswoman Jill Cashen. “To me, it’s an example that when you make the job more attractive you get a different kind of applicant.”

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In Greeley, where Swift is headquartered, union local president Ernie Duran said about 75 new workers have been hired—including about 30 Caucasians, 15 Somali immigrants and seven Hispanic immigrants, with the rest U.S.-born Hispanics. But the raid has not dissuaded Hispanic immigrants from seeking work at the plant, he said.

Before the raids, roughly 90 percent of the Greeley plant workers were Hispanic, Duran said. It was unclear, of that 90 percent, how many were immigrants and how many were U.S.-born, as the union officials said they did not keep track of members’ immigration status.

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