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05-10-2014, 06:37 PM #1
Hundreds may face layoffs after immigration audit
May 10, 2014 | Updated: May 10, 2014 5:18pm
Photo By Don Seabrook/AP
Hector Calderon, foreground, a manager for the Crunch Pak sliced apple company, speaks to workers demonstrating outside the production warehouse in Cashmere, Wash., on Friday, May 9, 2014. They walked away from work in a protest because a number of them may be taken off the job due to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit in August 2013.
CASHMERE, Wash. (AP) — Hundreds of workers at a central Washington apple packaging company could be facing layoffs after a federal immigration audit.
Crunch Pak notified its employees on Friday that they need to provide documents proving they can work in the United States legally after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit unveiled discrepancies in the payroll, The Wenatchee World reported Saturday.
Company spokeswoman Amy Philpott confirmed the audit but did not say how many employees were affected. The audit began in August 2013, and workers under review were notified the next month, she said.
Vicky Castro of East Wenatchee estimated that 90 percent of the people she works with received notifications.
Crunch Pak, which packages apple slices, employs about 900 people in Cashmere. The layoffs could begin May 19.
"What the company wants is for every employee to have the chance to correct their information or amend their paperwork," Philpott said.
Under an I-9 audit, employees are given 10 days to correct any discrepancies. The affected employees received their paychecks Friday attached to a notification letter and a blank immigration-information form that they could use to correct, if possible, any errors in their records.
The number of audits under President Barack Obama's administration has grown to thousands, and ICE promotes them to deter companies from hiring workers in the country illegally. Companies face fines and, in some cases, criminal charges for hiring people not allowed to work in the country.
Immigrant advocates say the audits have pushed workers further underground by causing mass layoffs and disrupted business practices.
An ICE spokesman in Seattle said the company does not confirm pending audits.
On Friday, around 50 workers organized a walkout to protest the looming layoffs. Most of those who walked out to the sidewalk, still wearing hardhats and hairnets, received the notices. Several said they had worked at Crunch Pak for a dozen years, and most said they were supporting children, either alone or with a spouse.
"They promised us when we started working here . they said, 'Help us build the company now and we'll all share the benefits,'" Maria Rosas, an employee of 14 years, said Friday. "I've been working five years without even a 5 cent pay increase, working day and night, as long as 16-hour days. Fourteen years making apples and not a single time have I ever been asked for documents."
Maria Maldonado, a longtime employee of the company that opened in 2001, agreed.
"All these years with the company only to find out they're throwing us out," she said.
Several workers complained that the company exploited their lack of legal status to assign long hours, with no paid vacation time, pay raises or health benefits.
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05-10-2014, 07:21 PM #2
- Join Date
- Apr 2012
Waah, whaaah, whaaah, it's unfair to lay us off, they say. I say it was unfair for them to apply for the job! Employing hundreds of aliens for 14 years, the company's fine should be large enough to bankrupt them! If not,that is unfair to American workers!! Unfair to our workers courtesy of United States Government.
05-10-2014, 10:53 PM #3
The companies run the scam as long as they can, often hiding behind third party contractors for the hiring of their illegal workforce to remain at arms length from culpability. If they hire internally they just use fake documents knowing that the chances of being caught are small and there may be few or none in penalties. Everyone, including the government, just acts dumb and covers these situations with excuses. Then we have the media on hand to fuel the flame of sympathy for the illegal workers, not the Americans whose identities they may have stolen or the jobs they occupy to replace Americans.
Companies are not fined enough, E Verify is not used and they pled ignorance, which is highly suspect.Jeremiah 29:11 - It is written, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
05-11-2014, 03:49 PM #4
Fines are just another cost of doing business. If we want to use law enforcement as a tool, to combat illegal aliens, then the people who hire them have to be put in jail.
Americans first in this magnificent country
American jobs for American workers
Fair trade, not free trade
05-20-2014, 05:29 PM #5
Crunch Pak lays off workers
Published:May 20, 2014 1:12PM
Dan Wheat/Capital Press Job fair signs on Crunch Pak office in Cashmere, Wash., May 20. The company has used job fairs to recruit workers in anticipation of layoffs due to ICE audits.
A national leader in sliced apple production has laid off an undisclosed number of workers whose work eligibility documents did not pass federal review.
CASHMERE, Wash. — Crunch Pak, the nation’s leader in sliced apples, confirmed that it laid off some of its 900 employees May 20 due to an I-9 audit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But the company would not say how many.
“The company feels information pertaining to employees individually or as a whole could inadvertently result in an invasion of privacy,” said Amy Philpott, company spokeswoman based in Washington, D.C.
On a street outside the company, a relative of one worker said 300 to 400 people were laid off and that Crunch Pak chose that over a $1 million fine. Philpott had no comment on that.
“The company knows there will be a certain level of business disruption but with hiring and automation feels it can minimize that,” Philpott said.
Crunch Pak has been hiring people for sometime in anticipation of possible layoffs and was planning to automate some of its production process even before the ICE audit began last August, she said.
The company held a job fair Nov. 15. Signs now outside the plant state the company holds a job fair every Friday through May 30, accepting applications and doing on-site hiring.
The signs note minimum wage starts at $10.05 per hour and that all full-time employees receive a free annual bus pass. The state’s minimum wage is $9.32 per hour.
The company was informed by ICE in August that it had been randomly and routinely selected for the audit, Philpott said.
I-9 forms that show Social Security numbers or other proof of eligibility of employment were reviewed and Crunch Pak was informed of mismatches in early May, Philpott said.
Mismatches are not necessarily an indication of immigration status but can be transposed numbers or changes of names, she said. At the end of the night shift on May 8 and day shift on May 9, Crunch Pak gave an undisclosed number of employees letters asking them to correct their I-9s by May 19 or lose their jobs, she said. If people are able to correct their forms after May 19 they may be rehired, she said.
According to an Associated Press story, about 50 workers walked off their jobs on May 9 to protest anticipated layoffs. One said about 90 percent of the workforce received notices to correct their I-9 forms. Some said the company exploited their lack of legal status to assign long hours with no paid vacations, no pay raises or health benefits. Maria Rosas was quoted in the story as saying she had worked there 14 years and was never asked for employment eligibility documents.
Asked about those comments, Philpott said, the company has abided by wage and hour laws including those providing overtime pay and wage increases.
“The company has always strived to hire people authorized to work in this country regardless of nationality,” she said.
Crunch Pak began in a 600-square-foot room in a Naumes fruit plant in Wenatchee in 2000. It now has 69,000 square feet of production and shipping space in Cashmere and 10,000 square feet in Reading, Pa. It can produce up to 1 million pounds of sliced apples per week.
In 2012, the Nielsen Company estimated Crunch Pak had 42 percent of the sliced apple business, valued at $250 million annually and in more than 16,000 U.S. stores. It also supplies schools and restaurants, co-brands products with Disney and packages grapes and carrots.
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