- Posted April 13, 2011 by
Decoster Egg farm still making news.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Jose Joey Lopez .
Organization: Maine League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Phone Number 207-740-7705
Website: www.mainelulac.org and lulac.org
Maine LULAC to hold public forums with Governor and provide testimony on DeCoster worker exploitation
Portland, MAINE, April 13 – Governor LePage said he would “love” to work the Maine League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on state issues going forward and has agreed to participate at public forums in Lewiston and Portland on issues impacting Maine people and the state’s economic future. Maine LULAC representatives made this announcement after a 40-minute private meeting with the Governor.
Also at the press conference, Maine LULAC discussed a series of interviews being conducted with workers at the DeCoster Chicken farm on violations involving working conditions and worker rights.
State Director Jose “Joey” Lopez is talking with past and present DeCoster employees on employee conditions that can only be described as inhumane and slave-like. “These are poor people seeking the American dream,” Lopez emphasized, “some as old as 60-years-of-age, who migrated to Turner, Maine on a company commitment for both liveable wages and working conditions. They were lied to, fired when injured and forced to work in unspeakable conditions.” Maine LULAC will likely have three hours of tape interviews and will work to provide an hour-long DVD for public availability.
What makes the issue more outrageous is that legislation, LD 1207, specific to the DeCoster company, has been introduced in the Maine Legislature and is slated to be heard at 1:00PM this Friday, April 15, before the Maine State Legislative Joint Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. The legislation would eliminate overtime, minimum wage and the civil rights for DeCoster workers to collectively organize and bargain on worker rights, conditions and benefits.
“This bill hits at the heart of a worker’s livelihood,” emphasized Dr. Ralph Carmona, President of Portland LULAC. “We do not see the camel’s nose under the tent, we see the whole hump.”
Lopez added: “It is bad enough for the DeCoster people to outright reject claims from poor, immigrant and injured people. Worse, DeCoster is circumventing ownership responsibility with a legislative proposal crafted that specifically exempts his company and symbolizes the destruction of Maine civil and worker rights.”
“Behind all the power of lobbyists, PR people, and lawyers counseling him to take the 5th Amendment,” Carmona contended, “Jack DeCoster is the ultimate culprit. There is the private DeCoster who is a civil and God-fearing man that funds Christian churches. Then there is the public DeCoster -- a political monster. How else can one describe someone who allows, under his watch for almost a generation as owner, investor, through family, paying his way out through millions of dollars in fines for a myriad of unspeakable corporate practices?”
Carmona elaborated: “For more than 20 years, under the DeCoster watch, female workers have been raped and harassed on work premises, consumers have been delivered poisonous (Salmonella) products, decent worker conditions, animal rights, child labor and environmental laws have been violated. This is a billionaire who is directly and indirectly responsible for one-third of America’s egg production. He is a public monster for his seamless decades of cruel, wicked and terrifying business effects on Maine people and the American public.” The political dimension of this monstrosity is the ability through legal, lobbying, and business procedures to rearrange and rename the company to undermine worker rights and seek special legislation like LD 1207.”
A former corporate lobbyist, Carmona pointed out “one could only speculate on the unreported funding they may have provided over the years to associations, supportive political campaigns, candidates and political actions committees. All those immoral and secretive practices eventually come to light, but, sadly, long after the public interest has been violated.”
Lopez pointed out that Maine LULAC also will oppose LD 1346, that establishes “training” work at below minimum wages for teenagers and removes hourly regulation for child labor. “It is,” Lopez concluded, “an effort to reverse child labor law as we know it.”
Founded in 1929, LULAC is the nation’s largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization with over 900 councils throughout the country. The Maine State LULAC is headquartered in Lewiston with chapters also in Portland, Auburn and Bangor.
LULAC Maine is engaged with business and civic leaders on programs of outreach aimed at integrating all Maine people who are immigrants and who suffer from economic disadvantage or disparate treatment. The organization is presently planning its Latino Festival Day to take place from 10:00AM to 9:00PM in Lewiston on July 30, 2011.
The Maine LULAC office is located at 40 Strawberry Ave, Lewiston, Maine 04210. The State Director, Jose “Joey” Lopez can be reached at: (207) 740-7705.