Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wildcat Strike Protects Immigrant Co-workers

A follow-up to the report on immigrant rallies in Kansas.

Workers won't face penalties for protests at Excel plant

GARANCE BURKE Associated Press

Several hundred workers briefly walked off the job at a Dodge City meatpacking plant Tuesday after company officials disciplined employees for missing work to protest proposed federal immigration laws a day earlier, union leaders said.

Just before the lunch hour, about 600 workers left the line and filed into the Excel Corp. cafeteria, saying they would not work if the company sanctioned some employees for attending Monday's immigration rally, an official with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2 said.

... after several hours of negotiations, the two sides agreed workers wouldn't be penalized for skipping work to demonstrate against legislation that would make it a felony to illegally enter the United States.

Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush said the plant's security director called earlier Tuesday requesting help. Three officers were sent to the plant, and dozens of highway troopers assembled to handle any possible disturbance, law enforcement officials said.

Union officials said members walked off the line because they felt some workers were being unfairly punished, since Excel had stated publicly that workers wouldn't be penalized for attending the protests.

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