In this file:
· Sioux City pork plant's financial incentives on hold after abuse allegations
The State of Iowa is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding allegations of abuse and mistreatment made by workers from Micronesia against Seaboard Triumph Foods, but in the meantime, the Sioux City pork plant's financial incentives are on hold…
· Micronesia expressing concerns about hiring practices of Seaboard Triumph Foods
… Dozens of Micronesia residents are accusing Seaboard Triumph Foods of abusing them…
Sioux City pork plant's financial incentives on hold after abuse allegations
Dolly Butz, Sioux City Journal (IA)
Oct 1, 2019
SIOUX CITY -- The State of Iowa is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding allegations of abuse and mistreatment made by workers from Micronesia against Seaboard Triumph Foods, but in the meantime, the Sioux City pork plant's financial incentives are on hold.
The government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) lodged a formal request Friday for the U.S. government to investigate Seaboard Triumph Foods (STF), after dozens of the sovereign island nation's citizens claimed that employers at STF "harassed" them physically and emotionally, including verbal abuse. The FSM consists of 607 small islands in the Western Pacific, which are roughly 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.
The STF plant, which opened in the fall of 2017, is the second-largest fresh pork plant in the world and one of the newest of its kind in the United States.
Debi Durham, Iowa economic development director, said Tuesday that the state has reached out to STF and is "reviewing the information."
"Everything is on hold as far as any incentive draw until we understand what we're dealing with," she said.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded STF $16.5 million in state tax credits and sales and use tax refunds. The City of Sioux City also provided financial incentives, including a $7.7 million property tax waiver for the first five years, based on a scale that will gradually reduce the exemption.
Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott said Tuesday that "there's two sides to every story." He said city officials have contacted STF about the allegations and believe the company is "trying to do everything they can to treat the employees fairly."
"What we've been led to believe is they're working hard to solve any problems there," he said.
The formal request for an investigation, which was posted to the Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia's website, claims that FSM citizens have reported "serious and sustained abuse," including potential human trafficking, labor abuse and "what appear to be other violations of U.S. law" at the pork plant.
Officials from STF said in a statement provided to the Journal Tuesday that they are aware of the allegations.
"Seaboard Triumph Foods is compliant with all laws and regulations during the hiring process and remains committed to ensuring a legally compliant work environment for each member of our staff," the statement said.
Reaching out to workers
Erica DeLeon, director of the community initiative One Siouxland, said various organizations are trying to figure out how to help Micronesian citizens, who she said aren't well-connected in the community.
"We've been talking to a few different organizations that cannot just help with the current challenges, but then, long term, get them connected to other resources, whether it's housing, social services and other employment if they so choose," she said. "It's too early to really talk about what we will be able to do. We're still trying to figure that out."
DeLeon said she is aware of a growing Micronesian population in Storm Lake, many of whom work at Tyson Foods' pork plant. She said their community leaders are trying to connect with the STF workers in Sioux City in effort to offer resources.
The formal request states that the government of the FSM has received reports that representatives of STF have been traveling to Pohnpei, one of the FSM's four states, to recruit Micronesian citizens to work at its Sioux City facility.
In October 2018, STF Chief Operating Officer Mark Porter told the Journal…
by Siouxland News/KMEG (IA)
September 30th 2019
SIOUX CITY, Iowa: A South Pacific island nation is asking the U.S. to investigate alleged abuse of its citizens by Seaboard Triumph Foods of Sioux City and the company's recruiting tactics.
Dozens of Micronesia residents are accusing Seaboard Triumph Foods of abusing them.
I've spoken with a woman whose husband and his fellow co-workers have been directly impacted and share their claims against the company.
More than 200 Micronesian citizens have reportedly left their South Pacific island home country and come to the U.S. for a better life but say instead they've been the victim of broken promises supposedly made by pork processing company Seaboard Triumph Foods.
Yuri Engichy's husband is an employee at that company's Sioux City plant and says one of the recruiters at STF is allegedly harassing the workers with verbal, sometimes even physical abuse.
This video recording captured by Engichy at the Sioux City Hotel allegedly shows the recruiter in question. Some of the employees claim he's been allowing himself into their bedrooms and not complying with their requests for him to leave.
"And then he saw William, and said why are you eye-ing me like that and then he turned to the rest of the group and said these are my 'women' and he also told William that he's also his woman," said Engichy.
Jetske Wauran: "And who's William to you?"
Engichy: "My fiancé, my husband."
In a statement requesting an investigation into the claims last Friday, the Micronesian Embassy in Washington claimed that not only were there allegations of verbal and physical abuse, but also the seizure of workers' passports, and withholding passports in order to threaten or punish workers.
They also allege STF is issuing workers fake social security numbers.
"It's a whole new number in the ADP, but I took a picture of that and we sent it to the Embassy and they said that that social security that was in the ADP is not right, it's invalid," said Engichy.
And now, there are news that housing assistance may end for them, if they don't sign the employment contracts for jobs they claim they were misled about.
Engichy said she and other family members have been doing the best they can assisting their fellow Micronesians, many of whom who don't speak English, and more so, are afraid to speak up.
"I was really like wow, is he really doing this our people? He was just talking to them like he owns them," said Engichy...
more, including video report [ 3:24 min.]