I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m Postville-obsessed, but I found the differences between these two takes on Somalis now moving into town fascinating.
The big difference is that The Register quotes immigrants who have worked at Agriprocessors and the AP talks to Somalis preparing to start work.
Before starting work, from the AP piece:
Aydurus Farah, a 21-year-old who immigrated from Somalia in 2004, set out for work in meatpacking plants to make money for his family back home in Somalia.
He planned to begin work at Agriprocessors this week, drawn from Minneapolis to Postville by the promised wages.
“They said over there they pay like 13 dollars an hour, very good money,” Farah said as he stood outside Sabor Latino, a popular Mexican restaurant.
He said he also appreciates the city’s small-town charms.
“I did not like Minneapolis – too many people, too many cars,” he said. “I like small towns. I am small town guy, so this is nice place. Maybe I can raise family here.”
After, from The Register piece:
Hassan Yusuf, 22, said he and others were promised a bonus and a free month’s rent if they came to work at the plant. “We never got it,” he said. “They’re just trying to grab us here.”
Yusuf showed a paycheck stub from Jacobson Cos., a Des Moines-based firm that has been hiring workers to fill jobs at Agriprocessors. The check was for his first week’s work, with deductions for rent and a loan he said he never took out. After the deductions, Yusuf netted $8.61.
The paperwork showed that he was supposed to make $10 an hour, and that he’d been paid for 34.5 hours. He said he actually worked 48 hours.
Yusuf showed another paycheck stub, from his cousin, who netted nothing for a week’s work.
Yusuf said he quit the job this weekend and wanted the recruiting company to pay for a bus ticket back to Texas, where he last lived.
So is it small town charm or greed? In Postville, you get both.