Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Do You Smell Something?

After nine Julio's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina employees were arrested recently in Saint Joseph, Missouri a lot area residents started asking questions about the work force at the new Triumph Foods pork plant. I'd heard that Triumph was supposed to provide city officials with a report that would answer those questions. A May 24, 2006 St. Joseph News-Press article BY Joe Blumberg says that report lacks some information.

Triumph employee report incomplete

Joe Blumberg
City Government Reporter

Triumph Foods provided the city of St. Joseph with a required report on its work force, but the report lacks information that would allow the city to verify the number of employees and average wages at the pork-processing plant.

The city late last week exercised its right to ask Triumph for detailed information on its employees. Thiumph provided the report Friday. The city plans to follow through with an audit.

Thiumph's incentives are tied to 750 workers in the first year with base wages of more than $10.50 an hour, and it must provide information to the city showing none of its employees are illegal immigrants. Triumph is supposed to provide the number of permanent jobs and average hourly wage, plus individual names, Social Security numbers, job titles, taxable wages, work location and start date for each employee, according to the tax-increment financing package to which it agreed.

The report provides all the information but employee names, instead listing a "file number" for each. It also list a start date of Jan. 3 for each of the about 1,760 employees. Jerry Lehenbauer, vice president of Triumph, said about 1,300 people are currently employed at the plant and that the larger number includes everyone who received wages, some of whom no longer work there, through March 31.

It lists 1,200 permanent new jobs as of May 19 with an average wage of $12.78 an hour. The report, however, doesn't specify which of the 1,760 currently work at the plant, with dozens of employees having earned less than $1,000 in the first three months of 2006.

The report does show that Triumph's total payroll matched what it reported to the state of Missouri in wages-$6,154,101.20 in the first quarter, including $677,195 for "various" "company officers"- suggesting that Triumph contributed payroll taxes for all 1,760 workers. Each worker had a Social Security number listed.

The audit of Triumph's work force would carry hopes of verifying the $10.50 wage standard and employees' legal status.

"I don't want to go in assuming they're in violation...but if things just don't add up, your going to dig deeper. Some amount of trust would be lost, and we would change our approach," said City Manager Vince Capell.

Triumph's incentive agreement allows the city to penalize the company $2,500 each year for each new job it fails to create.

Mr. Capell said the city also could verify employees' legal status by randomly checking payroll checks against employee wage reports. If Triumph was found to be employing illegal immigrants, Police Chief Chris Connally said the city would turn that information over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

I don't know maybe it's just me but something seems a little strange here. Is there some good reason for Triumph not wanting to share the name of their employees? Maybe the employees don't want their names to come out. It's going to be interesting to see the results of the audit. I really hope that it turns out that I'm wrong and this is just a misunderstanding.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


Blogger Always On Watch said...

If Triumph was found to be employing illegal immigrants, Police Chief Chris Connally said the city would turn that information over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

But will the feds follow through?

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work there I know they are covering up illegal immigrants working there I was a manager and I know there practices. They have also bussed in people to work there

7:54 PM  

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