3/6/2014 Amend LB560 Exclude Illegal Aliens

RedJackwFlagVeryNiceNebraskans, please call/email your Nebraska State Senator asking them to amend the language in LB560 to exclude illegal aliens from protections and remedies for victims of wage theft.


The bill is scheduled for floor debate today March 6th.   Thanks, Susan

State Bill pic smaller

Dear Senators:

Please amend LB 560 to include language that will exclude illegal aliens from protections and remedies for victims of wage theft. The language,” an individual”, would force an employer to continue the employment of an illegal alien(s) if he/she were a Plaintiff in a lawsuit.

A wage/hour case happened in Omaha where Judge Joseph Bataillon prohibited a local meat packing plant from retaliation/firing any of the Plaintiffs specifically including employees who had immigration status issues. I have a document that was mailed to the employees notifying them of Bataillon’s order. So the illegal aliens got protection to continue working and received a settlement.   It’s ironic that the company was punished but the illegal aliens were doubly rewarded for their law breaking

Wage and working condition abuses are some of the consequences illegal aliens subject themselves to when they choose to live in our country illegally.  It’s even more unfortunate that citizens and legal immigrants are passed over for these jobs.

Another point worth mentioning is to keep the crime criminal instead of the committee recommended change to civil and to make the first time penalty larger than $500.  Maybe a substantial fine and a “criminal” charge would keep companies from repeating the same offenses.

Shown below is the Intent of LB560, article links referring to the case I mentioned and an article showing the history of repeat offenses.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Susan Smith
Ph #, street address, Omaha, Ne 68111

LB 560 would update various labor laws to provide protections and remedies for
victims of wage theft. The bill does the following:

1.Requires employers who fall under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act
to keep employment records for at least five years, or longer if required by
the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission

2.Requires that employers provide employees with 30 days written notice before altering wages

3.Requires that employers furnish each employee with an itemized statement listing their wages and deductions on each payday

4.Provides criminal penalties for violations of the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act

5.Provides whistleblower protections under the Wage and Hour Act, Nebraska Wage
Payment and Collection Act, and Employee Misclassification Act
“Wage and Hour Act is amended to prohibit discrimination or retaliation against an individual, who has opposed an unlawful practice under the Act or has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act….. The Employee Classification Act is amended to prohibit discrimination or retaliation against an individual, who has
opposed an unlawful practice under the Act or has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act.”

Law360, New York (February 03, 2012, 1:38 PM ET) — A class of current and former employees of Nebraska Beef Ltd. on Thursday reached a preliminary $3.9 million settlement agreement with the meatpacker over claims that the company didn’t pay workers for time spent donning protective gear and performing other tasks required for work.

Class counsel Carolyn H. Cottrell of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP said the proposed settlement is the result of protracted, arm’s-length negotiations based on a comprehensive investigation of the facts and law.

The two sides reached the preliminary agreement after two…

Case Title  Chuol v. Nebraska Beef Ltd.
Case Number  8:08-cv-00099
Nature of Suit Labor: Fair Standards
Judge Joseph F. Bataillon
Date Filed March 5, 2008

Law360, New York (February 16, 2010, 6:06 PM ET) — A federal judge on Tuesday granted class certification to current and former employees of Nebraska Beef Ltd. accusing the meatpacker of not paying them for time spent putting on and taking off protective equipment and performing other tasks required for work.

Judge Joseph Bataillon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska adopted in whole an earlier finding by a magistrate judge who recommended class certification and the denial of Nebraska Beef’s motion for partial dismissal.

The plaintiffs, current and former employees of the…

Greater Omaha Packing Co. and Nebraska Beef Ltd.      March 13 2008

Two lawsuits have been filed and are both seeking class action status against the two meatpacking plants for allegedly failing to pay thousands of workers for time spent donning and doffing. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of current and former employees and claim Greater Omaha Packing and Nebraska Beef violated Nebraska state and federal wage and labor laws for years. The workers are seeking unpaid wages and overtime for time spent before and after assembly line work, including time spent putting on uniforms and safety gear, sanitizing equipment, retrieving, sharpening and putting away knives, walking between work sites, and other duties.

The suits claim unpaid work amounts to between 30 and 40 minutes each day per worker. An estimated 1,500 former and current workers at Greater Omaha and 1,800 workers at Nebraska Beef have been affected over the past four years.

Whole Foods Recalls Beef Processed At Plant Long at Odds With USDA
By Annys Shin and Ylan Q. Mui, The Washington Post

Whole Foods Market pulled fresh ground beef from all of its stores Friday, becoming the latest retailer affected by an E. coli outbreak traced to Nebraska Beef, one of the nation’s largest meatpackers. It’s the second outbreak linked to the processor in as many months.

The meat Whole Foods recalled came from Coleman Natural Foods, which unbeknownst to Whole Foods had processed it at Nebraska Beef, an Omaha meatpacker with a history of food-safety and other violations. Nebraska Beef last month recalled more than 5 million pounds of beef produced in May and June after its meat was blamed for another E. coli outbreak in seven states. On Friday it recalled an additional 1.2 million pounds of beef produced on June 17, June 24 and July 8, which included products eventually sold to Whole Foods. The recall is not related to the recent spate of E. coli illnesses among Boy Scouts at a gathering in Goshen, Va.

Whole Foods officials are investigating why they were not aware that Coleman was using Nebraska Beef as a processor, spokeswoman Libba Letton said.

The chain’s managers took action after Massachusetts health officials informed them Aug. 1 that seven people who had gotten sick from E. coli O157:H7 had all bought ground beef from Whole Foods. The same strain has sickened 31 people in 12 states, the District and Canada.
So far, tests have not found contaminated Whole Foods beef, Letton said.

That was small comfort yesterday to some shoppers at the Whole Foods on P Street NW.

“I shop here because the standards are higher, so yes, this really concerns me,” said Harry Harrison, 43, a District resident who shops almost exclusively at Whole Foods and buys beef at the store about once a week.

This latest outbreak was first identified in late July among customers of Dorothy Lane Market, a small Ohio grocery chain. Dorothy Lane also bought meat from Coleman Natural Foods, which bought primal cuts-meat intended for steaks and roasts-from Nebraska Beef. The E. coli strain found in the Massachusetts Whole Foods customers matches that Ohio strain.

Nebraska Beef, which continues to operate, had already been under close scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Agriculture since late June.

William M. Lamson Jr., a Nebraska Beef spokesman, said the company and the USDA had increased testing of its meat since then. It has found no E. coli O157:H7 in products made since July 8.

He said that since June, Nebraska Beef has hired food safety consultants and undertaken an in-depth review of its processes. USDA is doing the same.

“We will continue to investigate to see what is happening at the plant to see what they have to do to get a handle on their food-safety issues,” said agency spokeswoman Laura Reiser.

Nebraska Beef has a contentious history with the USDA. Over the past six years, federal meat inspectors have repeatedly written it up for sanitation violations, and the company has fought back in court.

From September 2002 to February 2003, USDA shut down the plant three times for problems such as feces on carcasses, water dripping off pipes onto meat, paint peeling onto equipment and plugged-up meat wash sinks, according to agency records.

After the third suspension, Nebraska Beef took USDA to court, arguing that another shutdown would put the company out of business. A judge agreed and temporarily blocked the department. The USDA and the company then settled out of court and inspections resumed. However, when federal meat inspectors found more violations, Nebraska Beef sued the department and the inspectors individually, accusing them of bias. The suit was later dismissed.

In 2004 and early 2005, Nebraska Beef ran afoul of new regulations aimed at keeping animal parts that may be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, out of the meat supply. Meat processors are required to remove certain high-risk parts, such as brains and spinal cords. Between July 2004 and February 2005, federal meat inspectors wrote up Nebraska Beef at least five times for not removing spinal cords and heads, according to USDA records obtained by Food and Water Watch, a Washington advocacy group. The company corrected the problems.

In August 2006, federal meat inspectors threatened to suspend operations at the packing house for not following requirements for controlling E. coli. The company corrected the problem a week later, USDA records show.

That year, Minnesota health officials blamed Nebraska Beef for sickening 17 people who ate meatballs at a church potluck in rural Minnesota. Several victims filed lawsuits against Nebraska Beef, including the family of a woman who died. The company last fall sued the church, arguing that the volunteer cooks did not cook the meatballs properly.

Lamson said management has since asked that the suit be dropped.

Given the history of violations, some consumer advocates question why the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has not come down harder on the company.

“It seems that FSIS is walking on eggshells when dealing with Nebraska Beef,” said Food and Water Watch lobbyist Tony Corbo. “Instead, the agency keeps on coming up with Band-Aid approaches . . . while consumers keep on getting sick from eating products put into commerce by this company.”

“Companies are provided the opportunity to take corrective action,” USDA’s Reiser said.

Lamson said Nebraska Beef’s relationship with regulators has changed.

“We may have disagreed with USDA in the past, but we believe we have a very good relationship going forward . . . as exemplified by our cooperation and our voluntary recall,” he said.

The force behind Nebraska Beef is Nebraska businessman William Hughes. Hughes was a top executive at the now-defunct BeefAmerica. In 1997, the USDA yanked its inspectors from BeefAmerica’s Norfolk, Neb., plant because of repeated sanitation violations, including contamination of meat with fecal matter. The company had to recall more than 600,000 pounds of beef after the USDA traced E. coli O157:H7-tainted meat from a Virginia retailer to the Omaha packer. It filed for bankruptcy the following year.

By then, Hughes was already part of a group of Nebraska Beef investors. The state gave the company additional financial support in the form of $7.5 million in tax credits under its Quality Jobs Act. Then-Gov. Ben Nelson (D), now a U.S. senator, sat on the three-member jobs board that approved the tax credits. Nelson’s former law firm, Lamson, Dugan and Murray, represents Nebraska Beef.

While state leaders welcomed Nebraska Beef and the jobs that came with it, residents who lived near the plant did not, and for more than a decade, they battled the company over manure strewn in the street and workers walking off the kill floor and into the local grocery store covered in cow splatter, said South Omaha resident Janet Bonet.

Labor unions have also criticized Nebraska Beef over its labor practices. Since 1998, the company has had 47 workplace safety violations and paid more than $100,000 in fines, Occupational Safety and Health Administration records show. Lamson said most were not serious.

In 2002, a National Labor Relations Board official voided a 2001 vote against unionizing Nebraska Beef employees. The NLRB official found that management interrogated workers about their union sympathies and threatened to fire, terminate benefits for or reassign employees who voted to unionize.

Whole Foods Market said customers who bought ground beef between June 2 and Aug. 6 should throw it out. They can return the packaging or receipt to the store for a refund.

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