Tag Archives: meatpacking

News Day: All T-Paw, all the time / Vampire pleads guilty / Trees coming down / Recession-proof industry / more

T-Paw signing off – in 2010 As Governor Pawlenty announced that he would not run for a third term as governor in 2010, it seemed that no other news could compete. Here’s the breakdown from Eric Black, who came away from the press conference with the message that “Tim Pawlenty loves God, his wife and kids, the troops and Minnesotans”, as well as the news that House Minority Leader Marty Seifert will run for guv, the PiPress gives a straightforward report,PIM looks at Pawlenty as a Big Mac, with “Secret sauce, secret seasonings. Same thing. Extraordinary tastes for extraordinary times,” but also provides a fact check on T-Paw’s claims of success, MinnPost on possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, and the Strib.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under news

News Day: Gunned down by Mpls cop / Eight workers for every opening / Coleman concedes, sort of / more

Evidence: Fong Lee unarmed when shot by Mpls police “Contrary to what Minneapolis police have claimed, Fong Lee didn’t have a gun in his right hand when a patrolman chased him and then shot him eight times,” according to a nationally recognized video forensics expert who reviewed surveillance camera photos, reports David Haners in the PiPress. Testimony unfolding in the civil suit against the city and police officer over the teen’s death paints a picture quite different from that drawn by Mpls police after the incident. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under news

News Day – January 26: Sex, money, jobs and politics

A three billion dollar question? That’s the Pawlenty estimate of the amount MN could get from the federal economic stimulus program, writes Bill Salisbury in the PiPress, and T-Paw thinks a good chunk of that money could go to resolving the state’s deficit. Not so fast, says Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, who says the federal package will be aimed at job creation, not budget relief. The TC Daily Planet reports on the economic stimulus wish lists that Minneapolis and St. Paul have sent to the MN congressional delegation. The focus? Heavy on roads and bridges and parks.

Senator, Governor, the race goes on As the recount trial begins today in St. Paul, former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza filed with the Campaign Finance Board, indicating that he will be running for governor in 2010, reports the Strib.

Another harassment suit for Jonathan Palmer Leah Ellis claimed in a 20-page complaint filed last week that Jonathan Palmer, now director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul, sexually harassed her, offering her $20 to strip for him, caressing her and retaliating when she resisted him, write Dave Orrick and Emily Gurnon in the PiPress. Toni Carter, board chair of the center, expressed confidence in Palmer and said he would stay on as director. The lawsuit says Ellis complained to Carter about Palmer’s behavior but was told to handle it with Palmer, and that other female employees also complained about sexual harassment in the work environment. Workplace lawsuits are not new to Palmer.

In August, former Minneapolis city employee Melissa Heus won a $15,000 settlement from the city in an employment-related claim against Palmer, said city spokesman Matt Laible. The claim arose when Palmer was director of the Empowerment Zone program, a federally funded, city-run revitalization program.

MN Job Watch New layoffs announced last week include 100 jobs from Arctic Cat’s Thief River Falls plant, says the Strib, and 110 from Polaris Industries’ Roseau plant, which will no longer make the Polaris Ranger utility vehicle, according to MPR. Andersen Windows announced another 160 layoffs on Friday, reports MPR, on top of permanent reductions of 50 workers and temporary layoffs of 400 announced earlier in January. Andersen said the latest layoffs will last at least through the first quarter of the year.

Hutchinson Technology cut its Sioux Falls work force in half less than two weeks ago, and announced Friday that it will close the plant and lay off the remaining 300 employees over the next three months, reports MPR. Sioux Falls assembly operations (computer disk drives and electronics products) will shift to Eau Claire and Hutchinson plants.

Strib union employees who took a buyout last spring and summer are getting the shaft, writes David Brauer at MinnPost, as the Strib, now in bankruptcy, says “future payments will be capped at $10,950 each — even if workers are due tens of thousands more.”

And in better job news The U.S. Census Bureau is looking to hire about a thousand people and is having trouble getting applicants. The census job site is at http://www.2010Censusjobs.gov.

The Minneapolis City Council voted to go ahead with scheduled pay raises for non-union employees, reports Steve Brandt in the Star Tribune. The group includes the 125 of the city’s highest-paid officials, and another group of 148 ranging “from fire cadets to senior attorneys.”

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that about 40 workers displaced by the trouble at the Agriprocssors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa have been recruited to work at the Long Prairie Packing Company in Long Prairie, MN. About half of the workers are from the Pacific island of Palau, with the others coming from a variety of places around the world. Under a “Compact of Free Association” with the U.S., Palauans can travel and work in this country without visas or green cards. Wages of $11.65 in Long Prairie compare favorably with the $9 an hour they were making in Postville.

JOBZ failing at jobs T-Paw’s favorite jobs program has some problems delivering, according to a recent AP article in Finance & Commerce. The article says 315 companies are in full compliance with the pledges they made to get JOBZ tax breaks, five will lose the tax credits for falling short of job creation goals, and 57 have been terminated for failing to meet targets, going out of business, or violating the JOBZ law, with 46 of these “subject to repayment provisions.”

The JOBZ tax breaks from 2004-2006 totaled about $46 million. According to the AP article, state officials expect a quarter of the companies with JOBZ deals will miss job-creation goals as the recession continues. One employer promised, in 2004, to create 25 full-time, $12-an-hour jobs by the end of 2007. Then he got an extension. Then he downgraded the target to 12 jobs. Now he says that, despite saving more than $!50,000 in taxes since 2004, the company will go under in 2010 when the tax breaks end.

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, who sponsored the original JOBZ bill “said a significant number of companies were missing targets even before the downturn, and he wants to see more evidence that JOBZ is working before granting any leeway.”

A 2008 legislative auditor’s report criticized JOBZ, concluding that “it has not been adequately focused or administered.”

Bye-bye, Big Stone? Less than a week after the MN PUC shot down a challenge to the Big Stone II coal plant, the federal Environmental Protection Agency put on the brakes. MPR reports that the EPA says the SoDak-issued air quality permit doesn’t deal adequately with important air quality issues, including monitoring for SO2 and NO emissions that contribute to acid rain. Environmentalists say the Big Stone plant would also add to global warming. Sierra Club says the EPA decision “likely spells the end” for $1.6 billion Big Stone II plant construction, but others are not so sure. At the very least, the decision slows the process and requires additional permitting. Read the decision here and here.

Off to war About 560 Minnesota National Guard soldiers head out to training in Texas in April, before being deployed to Iraq and Kuwait, reports the PiPress. The soldiers are from units in Montevideo, Appleton, Marshall, Madison, Olivia, Morris and Ortonville.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pig brains and politicians

An Austin man has sued Hormel over exposure to pig brains, reports the Strib. According to Dale Kinney’s legal filings, Hormel’s “process of using compressed air to harvest pig brains has led to a medical investigation involving the Mayo clinic, the Minnesota Department of Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).”

The Washington Post described the illness and its cause last year:

The ailment is characterized by sensations of burning, numbness and weakness in the arms and legs. For most, this is unpleasant but not disabling. For a few, however, the ailment has made walking difficult and work impossible. The symptoms have slowly lessened in severity, but in none of the sufferers has it disappeared completely.

While the illness is similar to some known conditions, it does not match any exactly. Nor is the leading theory of its cause something medical researchers have studied. That is because the illness appears to be caused by inhaling microscopic flecks of pig brain. …

[Investigators’] working hypothesis is that the harvesting technique — known as “blowing brains” on the floor — produces aerosols of brain matter. Once inhaled, the material prompts the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the pig brain compounds, but apparently also attack the body’s own nerve tissue because it is so similar.

Hormel says this plaintiff wasn’t an employee. Maybe he’ll have better luck than actual employees. As MPR previously reported, some immigrant workers have been denied workers’ compensation despite being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that attacks the neurological system. The worker interviewed by MPR couldn’t get workers’ comp to even pay for the meds prescribed for her condition. And, yes, workers are entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries suffered on the job, regardless of whether they are citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented workers.

Of course, if you listen to Minnesota Employment Commissioner Steve Sviggum, no undocumented workers should get compensation for lost work time or for permanent injuries suffered in the course of their work. He wants to change workers’ compensation insurance laws to deny them coverage of anything but medical bills. Lose a hand? Out of luck. Permanent neurological damage? Go back to Mexico.

Rep. Carlos Mariani responded to Sviggum’s outrageous proposal:

If one follows this thinking to its logical conclusion, denying work comp to undocumented would encourage employers to hire undocumented workers because doing so would shield them from the expense incurred for making the worker whole when injured on the job. It would also reward the employer for having unsafe work conditions since they would not incur the cost that follows from those conditions. The savings in expenses: from full work comp costs, and from the expense of maintaining a safe work place could be substantive and could alter the societal balance that exists between protecting workers while running efficient industries. What is posed as an issue that only affects undocumented workers becomes a sector-altering dynamic that undermines organized labor, not to mention that it creates two competing social value systems operating in our economy. … It seems to me that if you want to end the employment of undocumented workers in our society, then making it easier for employers to not bear the work comp costs of injured workers achieves the opposite.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized