The union representing the men and women who work at Salem’s meat processing plant, Fresh Mark, is speaking out — on how ICE agents handled the raid, the workers’ children and the system the company uses to hire people.
The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said it represents 2,800 members who work for the three Fresh Mark plants in Canton, Massillon and Salem that were raided on Tuesday.
“They literally just slammed some folks to the ground and handcuffed them, and then started escorting people out,” said Ryan Hadley, president of the Mid-South Council for the RWDSU.
Hadley is the union representative for these workers. The video ICE released to the media doesn’t show anything like what he’s talking about.
One local attorney said these raids take weeks, months or even years of surveillance. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes when investigating how a company makes its hires and whether it’s legal.
Hadley said Fresh Mark hires by the book.
“We’re outraged about it. We have an employer, Fresh Mark, they follow the federal guidelines as far as checking people’s credentials out. They use E-Verify, which is government-approved, on every employee.”
That’s the issue here and it’s something a lot of people have an opinion on.
Sister Rene Weeks, with St. Paul Catholic Church, said none of these workers were stealing from Americans.
“I don’t believe they’re all stealing our jobs. If they were, Fresh Mark wouldn’t have a sign out there that says ‘we’re hiring.'”
Now, both she and Hadley are focusing on children affected by the arrests — children who don’t know where their parents are. Hadley said there’s 550 of them.
The union is putting a task force together.
“We are not going to walk away from these people. We’re going to do everything we can to help them,” Hadley said.
Sister Rene said many churches are working together to help families with things like diapers, milk and other basic necessities. Even the plant workers proven to be here legally won’t be getting back to work any time soon.