“Whether it’s low-wage Hispanic workers or low-wage African American workers, each of them are trying to make a decent living, and they’re being pitted against each other,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the Memphis office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
By Will Evans, The Chicago Reporter
June 8, 2016
The code word for black workers caught Rosa Ceja by surprise.
She was working for a temp agency in spring 2014, supervising workers at a big brick packaging plant northwest of Chicago. Crews of minimum-wage temp workers in hairnets boxed consumer products such as adult diapers and energy drinks in shifts around the clock.
She knew the company wanted only men for some jobs and only women for others. And she knew those codes: “heavies” for men, “lights” for women.
But when Ceja asked the recruiting office to send more heavies, she was told there were only “guapos” available. She was confused. “Guapo” means “good-looking” in Spanish. “I'm like, ‘Who cares if he's cute?’ ” Ceja remembers saying.
Guapo, her fellow recruiters told her, meant a black worker. Black people didn’t want to work hard or get their hands dirty, they explained, so they were called the pretty ones. Latinos, the “feos” or ugly ones, were what the company wanted.[...]
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