A New Twist – Arms Length Employment of Undocumented Immigrants?
That numerous undocumented immigrants are currently employed at Packaging Concepts Limited in Lincoln, RI appears not to be a question. What is murky, and perhaps deliberately so, is the employing entity.
Following upon the terrible injury of Mr. Leonardo Cos at Packaging Concepts Limited came reports of certain follow-up activity there. Firstly, the company called employees together and asked them to fill out cards providing their name, address, phone number and a contact in case of emergencies. An hour later, employees were called back together, asked to provide real information on these cards and given the assurance that it would not be shared with the government. A week later, in response to a false rumor that an ICE inspection was imminent, employees were called together, told that ICE was not at the door and promised that, while management could not guarantee that ICE would not come, employees would immediately be warned if Packaging Concepts Limited received advance word of an inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Secondly, Central 2000, the agency which provides many “temporary” – quotes because the position appears to actually be held long term rather than temporarily – employees to Packaging Concepts Limited, came by and handed out IRS W-4 forms for their (or should that be Packaging Concepts Limited’s?) employees to fill out. Why these were not already on file and whether their collection at that particular moment was prompted by the accident is unknown.
The source of this information is Terry Gorman of RIILE who received reports of these developments and then conveyed it publicly at a RIILE meeting two weeks ago. It is unfortunate that following upon Mr. Cos’ accident and the enforcement action last year at the Michael Bianco factory, Packaging Concepts Limited has decided to take a hunker down rather than a compliance approach.
As to the larger issue of responsibility, if undocumented workers are the “cheapest” labor source, so much more convenient and less stressful would it be to obtain them from an employment agency. When ICE arrives, managers and owners can throw up their hands in all innocence. “Nothing to do with us.”
… other than profiting from the arrangement, of course.