news releases

2005.04.20 > For Immediate Release
contact: Teresa Gleason - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: tmgleason@mail.unomaha.edu

Discussion on Nebraska Meatpacking Plants and Immigrant Workers April 23 at UNO Conference

Omaha – The serious injury rate in the meatpacking industry is about five times the national average, making it the most dangerous job in America.

This statistic, cited by Human Rights Watch, is part of its January 2005 national report on workers' rights violations in the U.S. meat and poultry slaughtering and processing industry.

The impact of this report on the Nebraska meatpacking industry will be discussed Saturday, April 23, at a conference sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Office of Latino/Latin American Studies.  The conference, titled "Re-Visioning Latino America: New Perspectives on Migration, Transnationalism and Integration" is set for April 22-24 at the Hilton Omaha.

Lourdes Gouveia, director of OLLAS and an associate professor of sociology at UNO, will moderate a session titled "Reflections on the Human Rights Watch Report on Nebraska's Meatpacking Plants and Immigrant Workers" from 8 to 9:45 a.m. in the Castle Room of the Hilton Omaha.  Testimony from local workers will be featured in the session.

The Human Rights Watch report, "Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants," was authored by Lance Compa, Cornell University.  Compa, who will participate in the session, conducted extensive field research in Nebraska, Arkansas and North Carolina.  The report includes specific recommendations for reform addressed to employers, federal and state legislators, and federal and state labor law enforcement agencies.

Also scheduled to speak are David Griffith, East Carolina University, and Milo Mumgaard, The Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.  The discussion will feature simultaneous translation.

Other conference topics include:

- Free trade, labor and migration;

- Latino integration and the role of government, business and society;

- Latino culture, language and identity;

- Civic engagement, political representation and mobilization;

- Latino education;

- The Latino health crisis;

- Transnational communities and new destinations;

- Immigration and regional integration policies; and

- Violence and crime in a cross-border perspective.

"It is hoped the dynamic exchange of ideas and information about the current state of scholarship, policy and action will generate new forms of academic and sociopolitical engagement," said Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, assistant director of OLLAS and conference co-organizer.

The conference is free and open to the public.  It is made possible through the support of the U.S. Department of Education and local sponsors First National Bank of Omaha, Security National Bank and the Mammel Foundation.

Conference updates are available on the Web at http://www.unomaha.edu/ollas/.

For more information, contact Lucy Garza, OLLAS project coordinator, at (402) 554-3835 or lgarza@mail.unomaha.edu.

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