Thursday, June 01, 2006

Triumph Foods In The News Again

On Wednesday, May 24, 2006 I posted the text of a St. Joseph News-Press article that shows Triumph Foods doesn't seem to be very cooperative when it comes to sharing information about their employees with city officials. There was another article about Triumph employees in the News-Press today.

At least 15 workers seen leaving Triumph

Susan Mires
Business/Ag Reporter

Workers carrying boots and knife sharpening steels trickled out of Triumph Foods Wednesday morning.

Most of the men and women didn't speak English, but one man indicated he was looking for work.

There also were fewer cars in the parking lot Wednesday, as an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement apparently continues.

Employee absenteeism was high Monday, but Triumph spokesman Daren Williams said that wasn't unusual following a three-day weekend.

"Everything is in operation today and returning to normal," Mr. Williams said Wednesday.

The News-Press observed about 15 workers leaving the facility Wednesday, although an employee indicated as many as 40 people had turned in their gear and left the plant. Mr. Williams said the activities weren't unusual.

"Every day we have 50 to 60 people apply at the plant and every day we have people leave," he said.

Triumph informed some of its workers Friday that the government had audited its employee records and found some with documents that might not be valid. ICE asked to meet with the individuals in question. It is not known how many were affected.

Triumph Foods, which has been processing pork at its plant for five months, has 1,300 employees. The company is currently advertising for a second shift, which will require another 1,000 people.

St. Joseph is already dealing with a tight labor market with 4.4 percent unemployment.

"The biggest problem we have now is companies can't fill jobs, especially skilled jobs," said Tom Lesnak, senior vice president of economic development for the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce.

Triumph has advertised in several cities throughout the country, especially those with meatpacking plants. St. Joseph's Hispanic population has swelled since the plant opened.

"Triumph has struggled a little with filling jobs," Mr. Lesnak said. "They don't go looking for immigrant labor, they go looking for labor."

Mr. Lesnak indicated that Triumph has received more than its share of attention for hiring immigrant workers.

"We have a lot of big employers in St, Joseph who could potentially have some problems," he said.

Dave Howery of InterServ said the agency hasn't noticed any changes in the immigrant population since the ICE audit began. The situation at the plant is a local picture of the national need for comprehensive immigration reform, he said, that addresses both the needs of companies and the factors that cause people to migrate to the United States.

"It's not just Triumph Foods. Manufacturers here need a work force," Mr. Howery said. "When a business is ready to expand, they'll question if we have an available work force."

As some people left work on Wednesday, others arrived at Triumph Foods to apply for jobs."

I don't know, Triumph Foods claims could all be true, but it seems strange to me that people that don't speak English would be seen quitting around the time the investigation began.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.


Anonymous Michael said...

Call me crazy, but I thought that if the supply of something decreased, the price INCREASED, thus meeting the market demand.

However, the Chamber of Commerce addressed the low supply of labor by importing illegal (and still cheap labor).

Try that with any other commodity and you will hear the C.of C. folks screaming from the rafters about 'interfering' with the market.

Good post, David. Keep an eye on this.

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