Skip to comments.Suit focuses on Tyson relationship with advocacy group
Posted on 11/06/2007 8:20:56 AM PST by pulaskibush
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing Tyson Foods Inc. of hiring illegal aliens to work at poultry plants are focusing on the meat producers relationship with the League of Latin American Citizens. The class-action suit in U. S. District Court in Eastern Tennessee claims Springdale-based Tyson Foods knowingly hired illegal aliens to work for wages below what American workers would take. It was filed in April 2002 on behalf of former Tyson workers in several states, not including Arkansas. Trial is set for March 3. The plaintiffs in Trollinger v. Tyson are chicken plant workers who said they were harmed by a scheme by Tysons top management to depress wages, court documents state. We believe Tyson has used its relationship with LULAC to help carry out a willful blindness policy of hiring illegal workers, said the plaintiffs attorney, Howard W. Foster of Chicago. Tyson is very close with LULAC, especially in Springdale, and were alleging that the groups have agreed not to investigate workers who are suspected illegal aliens. Last week, the former director of the Arkansas chapter of the League of Latin American Citizens filed a motion to avoid giving a deposition in the case. In October, LULACs Housing Commission fought subpoenas seeking evidence in the case.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company continues to deny claims in the suit and will file a motion for summary judgment mid-month. We have a zero-tolerance policy for hiring people who are not authorized to work in the United States, Mickelson said. We value our relationships with various advocacy groups, including those representing the Hispanic community. Claims that those relationships are improper are not only false, but they are absurd.An amended complaint filed in 2005 added the allegation that Tyson used its relationship with LULAC to facilitate the hiring of illegal aliens. Foster wouldnt elaborate beyond what is in the complaint. Charles Cervantes, director of the Arkansas chapter of LULAC, said the leagues partnership with Tyson is geared at Hispanic advocacy efforts, such as curbing poverty and improving education. We would never tell Tyson or any of our corporate sponsors to hire undocumented workers, Cervantes said. Absolutely not. Nor would we turn our heads to that. Besides, LULAC doesnt tell its sponsors how to operate. Thats not our format. Tyson is one of many corporations across the country, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., with which LULAC has corporate sponsorships, he said. LULAC is not a defendant in the suit. The plaintiffs, however, have been gathering third-party evidence from the nonprofit league, including taking a deposition in August of LULAC national executive director Brent Wilkes, court records show. Foster said the suit is filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act, alleging Tyson committed wrongdoing by working with other groups or organizations.
Its one of the first suits to allege illegal immigrant hiring scheme under the RICO law, he said. Last week, R. Shawn McGrew, former Arkansas LULAC executive director, filed a motion in U. S. District Court in Fayetteville to quash a subpoena to give a deposition in the case. McGrew couldnt be reached and his attorney, Ray Niblock of Fayetteville, didnt return calls. The motion states that the plaintiffs want to ask Mc-Grew about whether he lobbied against Arkansas anti-immigration legislation, in particular, Act 907 of 2005, which authorized the State Police to designated officers to enforce federal immigration law. Last month, 19 officers in Washington and Benton counties began working under the supervision of U. S. Immigration Customs Enforcement under whats known as the 287 (g ) program. Cervantes said LULAC opposes local police enforcing federal immigration law because it creates opportunities for racial profiling and can violate the rights of people who cant immediately produce identification when asked by police. LULAC can exercise its First Amendment right to express its views on pending legislation when it pleases, Cervantes said. If Shawn [McGrew ] went and lobbied against 287 (g ), thats OK, said Cervantes, who succeeded McGrew as state director in 2006. Thats his American right. Foster said LULACs National Housing Commission fought a subpoena last month but has since agreed to turn over documents. He wouldnt say what the documents are.
The Housing Commission helps low- to moderate-income Hispanics with housing needs and issues, according to its Web site. Foster said other evidence in the suit includes depositions with and computer hard-drive evidence from defendants, who include John Tyson, chairman of the Tyson board of directors; Archie Schaffer III, a senior vice president; and Richard Bond, chief executive officer. Defendants in the suit are not the same former Tyson bosses who were indicted in 2001 in U. S. District Court in Tennessee on charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens for work. A jury acquitted those three defendants in 2003. Those were mid-level managers, Foster said. These defendants are top executives. Mickelson said the civil suit is largely based on claims made in the failed 2001 federal indictments.
IMO that's precisely why they were trying to jam the Z1 visas for 15 to 20 million illegals down our throats last spring. It explains the haste, the sloppiness, the subterfuge, and the relentless and underhanded Senate treatment of the Amnesty bill.
They were desperate to relieve their business patrons (Mcdonalds, Tyson, Cargill, Hilton Hotels, Burger Kink, Hormel, etc) from the potential problem that 15 to 20 million "predicate acts" might cause in a civil RICO suit. IMO every single hire of an illegal constitutes a single crime, and every regional Cargill or Tyson plant staffed by illegals constitutes part of a larger "pattern".
And here's an interesting event that IMO has precipitated the Congressional attempts to make these illegal aliens and RICO magnets a non-issue:
Friday, September 29, 2006
Federal appeals court allows RICO suit alleging company hired, aided illegal aliens
James M Yoch Jr at 11:01 AM ET
[JURIST] The US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] in Atlanta has ruled [opinion, PDF] ruled that a plaintiff is permitted to bring a class-action lawsuit against a carpet manufacturer under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO) [text]. The plaintiff claims that Mohawk Industries [corporate website] knowingly hired illegal aliens and assisted them in evading immigration officials and law enforcement, allowing it to reduce labor costs and to discourage workers' compensation claims in violation of state and federal RICO statutes. For civil liability to attach under RICO, the defendant must "conduct" or "participate in" affairs of a larger enterprise beyond its own internal affairs. The court held Wednesday that Mohawk's use of a third-party recruiter to hire and conceal illegal aliens satisfied the requirement in light of the US Supreme Court's decision [JURIST report] last term in Anza v. Ideal Steel Supply Corp.
I may have sent it to you in the past, but I vaguely recall finding a very good, scholarly treatment of civil RICO’s, and IIRC standing was an important part of the discussion. I was poking around for it earlier today but no luck.
I have to go out for a bit, but I’ll take another look for it later today, I’ll ping you on FRmail when I find it (or give up looking).
Just as an aside (I’m no lawyer either), it seems probable that one must demonstrate actual and demonstrable personal harm in order to participate in a civil RICO. That would be “standing”.
I suppose I could argue that Cargill is distributing e-coli hamburger due to illiterate illegal workers, and that this endangers me and my family personally, but probably that’s too vague (or maybe not). Certainly there’s no “actual harm” there.
It’s more likely along the lines of “I was fired, and Jose the Guatemalan illegal was hired”.
That’s demonstrable and actual harm = “standing”.
More to the point, I can’t sue Tyson because they hire illegals. I have to demonstrate that Tyson’s hiring of illegals actually harmed me personally.
I see that you see my point....
I see that you see my point....
Except for Tyson Foods, none of the names or organizations mentioned in the article are registered as a lobbyist or a PAC in Arkansas.
Generally speaking, companies are able to disguise such activities through their memberships in other trade associations, which may or may not have staff lobbyists (if not, the associations hire K Street lobbyists, which even further masks their activities).
I showed above in #28 that the American Meat Institute - which has several hundred small and mega-big members including Tyson, Cargill, etc, and claims to represent more than 70 percent of America's meat production - does immigration advocacy in Congressional Quarterly, which is certainly a Beltway "insider" publication. And if AMI sends a lobbyist to the Hill, that lobbyist most definitely has the interests of Hormel, Tyson, Cargill, et al on his agenda.
Then you see that the National Council of Chain Restaurants also works with AMI. NCCR has Mcdonalds, BK, Yum, and many others as its members (I vaguely recall their assertion that they represented "6 million restaurant workers"). Thus Mcdonalds doesn't need to send out lobbyists or do issue advocacy, since NCCR does that work for them and provides necessary cover.
So the idea is that the companies can and DO mask their advocacy programs within business associations and second- and thired-removed lobbyists.
Whether in DC or in Arkansas, they don't want their names directly attached to contoversial issues.
Alot of this can be loosely tracked through very tedious work in the opensecrets.org database of lobbyist reports, but those are designed to allow a certain amount of "slop" in favor of lobbyists, elected (and appointed) officials, and their "clients" (aka "patrons").
The alleged lobbying in this case was about “Arkansas anti-immigration legislation”, so these probably would not be K-Street lobbyists. My understanding of Arkansas disclosure laws is that local lobbyists must disclose their clients. Tyson’s lobbyist does show up on the registration list, but no registrations are shown for LULAC, McGrew or Cervantes.
The point is - if McGrew admits in a deposition that he engaged in lobbying - but he didn’t register as a lobbyist - it could be a problem for McGrew and LULAC. That may be what the plaintiffs are looking for. Otherwise, I don’t see the legal relevance of lobbying activity with respect to this lawsuit.
Anyone who knows ANYTHING about Tyson (or even better lives near a plant) knows without a doubt that Tyson intentionally hires illegals. There is no way they can claim ignorance.
BUT-—they are also DEEP in politics...and have padded the back pockets of many politicians.
Got into an argument with someone here on FR a year or so ago where the other party tried to tell me that there were no businesses or organizations pushing for amnesty... Your list would have been invaluable then!
I have been boycotting Tyson Foods for years. Ever since I found out about their funding Slick and Hitlery.
Me too. I figured they were spending money on corrupt politicians instead of quality products.
Caesar Chavez actually encouraged turning in illegal aliens. He knew what it meant for wages.
Early on, yes. Then they had a bit of a fallout and Don Tyson came out and endorsed Dole for '96. Shortly thereafter, Tyson's plants got massive immigration raids. Not sure how/if fences got mended between the two after that.
“Lie down with the dogs, get up with the fleas.”