There is no information provided in the article about any victims or deceased individuals related to the labor abuses at the poultry plants. : “Poultry Processor Allegedly Hid Child Workers in Southern California Plants, Federal Lawsuit Reveals”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : When investigators arrived at two poultry plants in Southern California owned by Tony Bran, they made a disturbing discovery. According to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, operators of the poultry processor allegedly hid child workers in bathrooms and closets and hurried them out the back door. These child workers, as young as 14, were illegally performing dangerous jobs, such as deboning chicken and operating heavy machinery. The chicken processed at these plants eventually made its way to major supermarkets and distributors.

The child laborers primarily came from Indigenous communities in Guatemala and spoke Q’eqchi’, K’iche’, and Mam. Instead of attending school, they were forced to work long hours and were owed overtime pay. The federal lawsuit also accused Bran of cheating both children and adult workers out of wages.

After the investigators left the plants, Bran allegedly corralled the workers and told them that they meant nothing to him and should leave if they didn’t like how they were being treated. Last month, Bran settled with the federal government and agreed to pay nearly $3.8 million to workers. He had previously settled a separate wage-theft lawsuit with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, agreeing to pay $1.47 million in unpaid wages and penalties.

The conditions at these plants and the use of child labor for products sold at major supermarkets highlight a larger issue of labor abuses faced by vulnerable workers, especially immigrants. Child labor violations have been on the rise in the U.S., and industry groups are working to roll back child labor protections through state legislation. The weak laws protecting workers contribute to these abuses, and children are often thrown into these exploitative situations.

When the Department of Labor executed search warrants at Bran’s poultry plants in September, community groups and government organizations sprang into action to provide services for the workers. Legal screenings, interpretation services in Indigenous languages, and immigration relief assessments were provided to the workers. However, there was a significant level of distrust among the workers due to threats and retaliation from Bran.

The recent settlement not only requires Bran to pay fines but also includes monitoring and preferential hiring for workers who were fired. The Exclusive Poultry, Bran’s company, has effectively been put out of business as a result of these allegations and the resolution, resulting in a loss of economy and jobs in the region.

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