Monday, June 29, 2009

Criminals Because We Worked

The company says Agustiano's Social Security number is no good. That accusation, and the mass firings based on it, has put these 254 workers, mostly women, at the epicenter of the national debate over the nation's immigration laws.

By David Bacon, Truthout
June 20, 2009

Vernon, California --The production lines at Overhill Farms move very quickly. Every day, for 18 years, Bohemia Agustiano stood in front of the "banda" for eight or nine hours, putting pieces of frozen chicken, rice and vegetables onto plates as they passed in a blur before her. Making the same motions over and over for such a long time, her feet in one place on the concrete floor, had its price. Pains began shooting through her hands and wrists, up her arms to her shoulders.

Complaining also had a price, however. "I was reluctant to say anything because of my need," she says. "I have four children. So I preferred to stay hurt, and take pills for it, than to go out on disability." Finally, though, it got too much. She couldn't sleep without pain constantly waking her, and she was moving through a haze of exhaustion. So, she went to the company doctor. [...]

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