business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that the list of plaintiffs is suing Wal-Mart - for allegedly conspiring to use contractors to violate the civil rights and wage protections of immigrants without proper documentation - is expected grow, as dozens of Czech workers join the suit.

The original class action suit was filed in mid-November on behalf of nine Mexican workers who were among the more than 200 people from 18 countries arrested in a federal sweep of 58 Wal-Mart stores. The suit charged that the company violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring with cleaning contractors to cheat immigrant janitors out of wages.

The attorney in the suit, James Linsey, said, "Wal-Mart cannot deny that they know that these people are in the stores," and accused the retailer of being complicit in a kind of slavery.

Linsey said that most of the immigrants worked seven days a week, 365 days a year, with no medical coverage, no overtime pay, and virtually no money during the first few months of their employment.
KC's View:
We're a lot more sympathetic to the federal investigation into the illegal immigration issue than we are to the class action suit. After all, these folks need to take some responsibility for the fact that they were in this country illegally.

Of course, if it is discovered that these people were being exploited by cleaning contractors and Wal-Mart, then the perpetrators ought to have the book thrown at them. Exploitation in any form is despicable.

It also is interesting that this case is occurring within the context of the expected announcement by the Bush administration today that it wants to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and give legal status to millions of undocumented workers - essentially granting them amnesty for past misdeeds. Passage of the legislation is by no means assured; Democrats are expected to resist because they feel Bush is pandering in a presidential election year, and conservatives object because they feel the move sanctions the breaking of federal law.