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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

May Day USA: Unions Proclaim Immigrant Rights are Worker Rights!

Posted to the IUF website 08-May-2006

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Hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and trade unionists marched and rallied across the USA on May 1 in opposition to anti-immigrant legislation pending in the U.S. Congress. Major meat and poultry processing companies were forced to close many plants for the day because their mainly immigrant workers enthusiastically joined the nationwide rallies and demonstrations.

In Lumberton, North Carolina, immigrant workers from the giant Smithfield pork processing plant in Tar Heel - the target of a major UFCW organizing effort - joined the crowd of about 5,000 to rally with signs and T-shirts that read Immigrant Rights are Worker Rights.

Smithfield has denied workers - native and immigrant - the right to organize into a union at the Tar Heel plant, using a mixture of sophisticated union avoidance tactics and brutal repression, including violence by its own private police force. Most recently in the long history of documented abuses, on April 28, 2006, the National Labor Relations Board found Smithfield and its cleaning contractor QSI guilty of unlawfully discharging 14 immigrant workers after threatening them with violence and illegal arrest for taking collective action at the Tar Heel plant. The workers had tried to walk off the job in November 2003 to protest repeated violations by the contractor, and were forcibly restrained and menaced by Smithfield's private police within the plant.