Pallet company to pay $20+million for immigration violations

A company accused of encouraging hundreds to illegally enter the United States and then hiring them using fake Social Security numbers has agreed to pay the largest settlement ever in a workplace immigration bust.

IFCO Systems North America, a pallet and crate company, will pay a $20.7 million settlement, which includes $18.1 million in fines and $2.6 million for overtime violations, the Department of Justice said.

In early 2006, immigration officials raided 45 IFCO sites, arresting almost 1,200 low-level workers. Federal officials also charged several managers, accusing them of using “as a business model the systematic violation of United States law.”

To date, nine IFCO managers and employees have pleaded guilty to criminal conduct, the Justice Department said. Four managers are awaiting trial on felony charges and the investigation is continuing, it said.

IFCO records suggests that as many as 6,000 illegal immigrants worked at company plants from 2003 to 2006, the Justice Department said.

As usual, the point avoided by prosecutors and the press is that undocumentados are essentially used as scabs to cut the wages of native-born workers. Typically, wages are reduced 40% or more below existing wages.

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