RICO suit against Swift in wake of ICE raids

On Dec. 15, a group of 18 former employees at Swift & Co. filed a $23 million lawsuit charging the company with conspiring to keep wages down by hiring undocumented workers. The plaintiffs are all naturalized US citizens or legal residents of Latin American origin who worked at the Swift plant in Cactus, Texas. (EFE, Dec. 21) The lawsuit uses the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) in charging Swift with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy to manipulate commerce. “When the Swift plant opened in Cactus, wages were approximately $20 an hour,” plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Heygood told reporters in Texas. “Now, the average wage is approximately $12 to $13 an hour.” (Washington Times, Dec. 19) Several union officials said Swift began improving its wages, benefits and bonuses in the weeks before the raids. “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 (UFCW) spokesperson Jill Cashen. (AP, Dec. 19)

From Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 29

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.