If you haven’t already heard: yesterday the Trump administration carried out an immigration raid on several Mississippi food processing plants, arresting 680 mostly Latinx working people and taking them to a military hangar to be “processed.” According to local news reports, many of their children were left wandering the streets alone and crying, relying on neighbors and strangers for dinner with no knowledge of where their parents were or if they’d ever see them again.
This is a shocking act of violence against a community that is still reeling from the El Paso shooting this week after a white supremacist explicitly targeted the Latinx community in a mass shooting.
It’s easy to gloss over the details when the hurt is so big. But one of the plants that the Trump administration raided was anything but random – it was a site of workplace resistance to sexual harassment, racism and xenophobia.
Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled a major lawsuit against Koch foods in Morton, Mississippi for sexual harassment, discrimination based on national origin and race as well as retaliation against a class of Hispanic workers. From the EEOC’s press release announcing the settlement:
“According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Koch subjected…Hispanic employees and female employees to a hostile work environment and disparate treatment based on their race/national origin (Hispanic), sex (female), and further retaliated against those who engaged in protected activity.
EEOC alleges that supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities. Further, a class of Hispanic employees was subject to retaliation in the form of discharge and other adverse actions after complaining.”
The settlement included $3.75 million to those who were harmed but it went further – including providing anti-discrimination training to employees; creating a 24-hour hotline for reporting discrimination complaints in English and Spanish; and posting anti-discrimination policies and notices in its workplace in English and Spanish.
In short: All of our struggles are connected, and Trump is using these raids not only to sow terror in immigrant communities but to punish working people – many of whom are women – who were brave enough to fight back against abusive working conditions in their workplace.
If you have suffered sex discrimination at work, at school or in healthcare, you can fill out an intake form to be connected to an attorney here: https://nwlc.org/legal-assistance/