After ICE Raid Mississippi Workers Labor to Overcome Racial Divisions
- David Bacon, New America Media
Mississippi activists, however, say that this simplistic picture obscures the real conditions in the plant, and the role the company itself played in fomenting divisions among workers. According to Clarence Larkin, African American president of IBEW Local 1317, the union at the plant, 'this employer pits workers against each other by design, and breeds division among them that affects everyone,' he says. 'By favoring one worker over another, workers sometimes can't see who their real enemy is. And that's what helps keep wages low.'
Workers at Howard Industries do not simply look at each other as enemies across race lines, however. On Aug. 28 organizer Vicky Cintra of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance led a group of women fired in the raid to the Pendorf plant to demand their pay, after the company denied them paychecks. Managers called Laurel police and sheriffs, who threatened to arrest her. After workers began chanting, 'Let her go!' and news reporters appeared on the scene, the company finally agreed to distribute checks to about 70 people.