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April 2012 Volume 18 Number 2
EEOC Data: Hispanics in Food Industries
EEOC. EEOC data report the sex, race and ethnicity of employees (www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/employment/jobpat-eeo1/index.cfm) employed in most US establishments. EEOC data show that the share of Hispanic workers in food manufacturing and meat packing rose rapidly between 2000 and 2005 but fell between 2005 and 2010.<< back
There are several possible reasons for the falling share of Hispanics among laborers in food manufacturing and meat packing, including stepped up enforcement of immigration laws. There were widely publicized workplace raids in 2006-07 followed by I-9 audits and most meatpackers enrolling in E-Verify, which may discourage unauthorized workers from applying for jobs. The 2008-09 recession may also have made year-round meatpacking jobs that often pay $12 an hour more attractive to white and Black workers.
Food manufacturing, NAICS 311, employed an average 1.4 million workers in 28,500 establishments in 2010 at average weekly wages of $780 a week. http://www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn10.htm) Animal slaughtering and processing (NAICS 3116) employed an average 486,000 workers in 4,000 establishments at average weekly wages of $630 in 2010, a third of food manufacturing workers. Almost half of meat-industry workers were in poultry processing (NAICS 3116), which employed 225,000 workers in 700 establishments at average weekly wages of $535 in 2010.
The value added by food manufacturers was $260 billion in 2009, including $55 billion from animal slaughtering and processing (Table 1011, US Statistical Abstract, 2012). Employment in food manufacturing fell about seven percent between 2000 and 2009, and three percent in animal slaughtering and processing.
In food manufacturing (NAICS 311), 64 percent of all employees were men in 2010, and 30 percent were Hispanic, 15 percent Black, and five percent Asian. In 2005, men were 64 percent of food manufacturing employees and Hispanics were 31 percent, Blacks 14 percent, and Asians four percent. In 2000, men were 66 percent, Hispanics were 24 percent, Blacks 16 percent, and Asians three percent. The sharpest jump in the Hispanic share of food manufacturing employees occurred between 2000 and 2005.
EEOC data report race and ethnicity for various types of workers, including managers, professionals and laborers. Among food manufacturing workers classified as "laborers" in 2010, Hispanics were 43 percent, Blacks 21 percent, and Asians six percent. In 2005, Hispanics were 49 percent, Blacks 16 percent, and Asians five percent. In 2000, Hispanics were 42 percent, Blacks 20 percent, and Asians five percent.
The share of Hispanics among food manufacturing laborers rose sharply between 2000 and 2005, but fell back to 2000 levels by 2010.
The same patterns show up in animal slaughtering employment, which is a third of food manufacturing employment. In 2000, Hispanics were 38 percent of employees in animal slaughtering and 48 percent among animal slaughtering laborers. The Hispanic share of animal slaughtering workers rose by almost 10 percentage points by 2005 and fell to 2000 levels or below by 2010.
During the late 1990s, Operation Vanguard was an enforcement effort that subpoenaed records from meatpacking plants, compared employee I-9 information against SSA and INS databases, and instructed employers to ask employees who appeared to be unauthorized to clear up discrepancies in their records before INS agents came to the plant to interview them. When informed of INS suspicions that they were unauthorized, most of the suspect workers quit.
Vanguard was attacked by meatpackers, farmers, unions and Hispanic groups, prompting the INS headquarters to order its suspension in 2000. This lack of enforcement may have contributed to the jump in the Hispanic share of employment in meatpacking between 2000 and 2005.
Beginning in 2006, meatpacking plants were often targeted in immigration raids seeking unauthorized workers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency used 1,000 agents to inspect workers at six plants owned by Swift on December 12, 2006, arresting 1,300 of the 7,000 workers employed on the day shift in these plants, almost 20 percent. Crider Inc, a poultry processor in Stillmore, Georgia, lost three-fourths of its 900-strong work force when ICE agents mounted a raid on Labor Day weekend in 2006.
Stepped-up enforcement of immigration laws in meatpacking and wage increases at some plants, the 2008-09 recession, and most meatpackers enrolling in E-Verify appear to have reduced the Hispanic share of especially laborers in the industry.
Fremont. About 57 percent of voters in Fremont, Nebraska approved Ordinance 5165 in June 2010 that includes fines for landlords who rent to unauthorized foreigners and employers who hire them. With a population of 25,000, there are two major employers just outside of town, Hormel and Fremont Beef; both use E-Verify to screen new hires.
The Fremont city council suspended enforcement of the ordinance until federal courts weighed its constitutionality. In February 2012, a federal judge rejected some of the housing provisions of the ordinance but upheld the requirement that employers begin to use E-Verify to check new hires May 4, 2012. The judge ruled that Fremont could require anyone seeking to rent to apply for $5 city permits and swear they are in the country legally, but not revoke the rental permits if the person was later determined to be illegal.
Fremont appropriated $1 million to implement the ordinance in 2012-13 with two new employees. The ACLU is seeking over $700,000 in legal fees because it was partially successful in challenge Ordinance 5165.
Garden City. Garden City in southwestern Kansas has meatpacking plants and unfilled jobs. HB 2603 would create a state program that allows unauthorized foreigners to legalize their status in order to support agriculture in the western part of the state. Under HB 2603, unauthorized foreigners in the US at least five years who can pass an English test and agree to work in labor-short industries would not face federal enforcement efforts.
Agriprocessors. On May 12, 2008, over 500 ICE agents raided the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa and arrested 389 workers. Many were charged with identity theft, pleaded guilty and served time in federal prison, and were deported to Guatemala. Agriprocessors Vice President Sholom Rubashkin was convicted of financial fraud and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The plant was sold, renamed and continues to operate with a mostly immigrant work force.
Stephanie Rose of the US Attorney's Office was nominated to be a federal judge. After several senators questioned her about the Agriprocessors raid, she said that she was a liaison rather than a planner of the raid. Rose negotiated over 300 plea deals with arrested workers, but said she had no discretion in the terms the arrested workers were offered, generally a five-month prison term for aggravated identity theft followed by deportation.
Critics said that many of the arrested workers were imprisoned so they would be available to testify against the Rubashkin family, owners of Agriprocessors. However, the Rubashkins were not arrested until six months after the raid, which was after most of the workers were deported.
Chris Zavadil, "Appeals filed on illegal immigration ordinance," Fremont Tribune, March 27, 2012. Champlin, Dell, and Eric Hake. 2006. Immigration as Industrial Strategy in American Meatpacking. Journal of Political Economy. 18(1) January. 49-69.