Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Federal Lawsuit Claims Wisconsin GLK Sauerkraut Processor Wrongfully Fired 100 Mexican Guest Workers

GLK sauerkraut processor fired Mexican guest workers to avoid paying higher wages set by U.S. Department of Labor.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 29, 2012

Greenbay - On Wednesday, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against Great Lakes Kraut Foods (GLK), a Wisconsin sauerkraut producer and its owner Ryan A. Downs for wrongful termination of 100 Mexican guest workers. The lawsuit was filed by Farmworker Justice and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, a Chicago law firm. The plaintiffs claim GLK fired the guest workers after a threat of a federal mandated wage increase by the U.S. Department of Labor for firms that hire foreign guest workers.
Congress later block the wage increase, but GLK replaced the guest workers several months after they began working at the processing company with a migrant work crew from a Florida contractor.
The plaintiffs cited in the lawsuit, that GLK violated federal and state labor laws, including the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protect Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Wisconsin Migrant Labor Act.
The guest workers were issued H-2B visas in 2011. Their work consisted of trimming, cutting and preparing raw cabbage as a process to make sauerkraut.
The fired guest workers were unable to make nearly enough money to repay their recruitment fees, travel and immigration expenses as required in order to work for GLK. The expenses for the Mexican workers to come work in the U.S. totalled thousands of dollars, according to the plaintiffs.
Another lawsuit was also filed for a smaller group who were recruited to work in Wisconsin and received H-2B visas from a U.S. Consulate, but were sent home before coming to the U.S.

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