Tysons People Smuggling
A federal grand jury in Chattanooga, Tennessee in January returned a
36 count indictment against executives and managers of Tyson Foods, Inc.,
the worlds largest producer, processor and marketer of poultry-based
food products, for conspiracy to smuggle undocumented workers to Tyson
Foods processing facilities in the United States for profit.
The indictment is the culmination of a two-and-one-half year undercover
investigation conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
into the business practices of Tyson Foods.
Federal officials alleged that Tyson Foods executives and managers conspired
to import and transport undocumented workers from the Southwest border
to Tyson plants throughout the United States. Fifteen Tyson Foods plants
in nine states have been implicated in the alleged conspiracy. Federal
officials alleged that Tyson Foods cultivated a corporate culture in which
the hiring of undocumented workers was condoned in order to meet production
goals and cut costs to maximize profits.
The indictment describes a scheme by which the defendants requested delivery
of undocumented workers to work at Tyson plants in the United States and
aided and abetted them in obtaining false documents so they could work
at Tyson poultry processing plants under the false pretense of being
Tyson strongly denies the charges. There was no corporate
conspiracy at Tyson Foods, says Ken Kimbro, Tysons senior
vice president of human resources. In fact, the evidence overwhelmingly
shows that the vast majority of our plants complied strictly with all
laws. The governments allegations are unfounded, and Tyson Foods
will vigorously defend itself against all charges.
Tyson says that it has a long history of partnering with the INS to ensure
corporate compliance with immigration laws, which it argues dispels the
governments allegation of a conspiracy to violate immigration laws.
BellSouth in Latin America
The Securities and Exchange Commission in January issued a cease-and-desist
order against BellSouth Corporation after finding the company violated
provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Without admitting or denying the SECs allegations, BellSouth consented
to the order, which requires BellSouth to cease and desist from violating
The SEC found that between September 1997 and August 2000, former senior
management of BellSouths Venezuelan subsidiary, Telcel, C.A., authorized
payments totaling approximately $10.8 million to six offshore companies
and improperly recorded the disbursements in Telcels books and records.
SEC investigators also found that, between October 1998 and June 1999,
BellSouths Nicaraguan subsidiary, Telefonia Celular de Nicaragua,
S.A., improperly recorded payments to the wife of the Nicaraguan legislator
who was chair of the legislative committee that oversaw telecommunications
policies in the country.
During the lobbyists retention, the legislator/husband drafted
the text of the proposed repeal of a law restricting foreign ownership
of Nicaraguan telecommunications companies and enlisted support for the
proposed repeal from other legislative committee members.
In December 1999, the Nicaraguan National Assembly voted to repeal the
foreign ownership restriction.
Soon thereafter, BellSouth increased its ownership interest in Telefonia
to 89 percent.
Hanging Up on AT&T
Ruling that consumer rights cannot be stripped away in a form contract,
a federal judge in San Francisco in January found unlawful AT&T form
contract provisions that required mandatory arbitration on discriminatory
terms in case of consumer disputes with the company.
AT&T sought to shield itself from liability ... by imposing
legal remedies provisions that eliminate class actions, sharply curtail
damages in cases of misrepresentation, fraud, and other intentional torts,
cloak the arbitration process with secrecy and place significant financial
hurdles in the path of a potential litigant, U.S. District Court
Judge Bernard Zimmerman ruled.
It is not just that AT&T wants to litigate in the forum of
its choice arbitration it is that AT&T wants to make
it very difficult for anyone to effectively vindicate her rights, even
in that forum. That is illegal and unconscionable and must be enjoined.
The suit, Ting v. AT&T, is a class action on behalf of all AT&T
long distance telephone customers in California. The court held that AT&Ts
mandatory arbitration provision is unlawful under Californias Consumer
Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law.
The ban on class actions is substantively unconscionable,
the court held, and would shield AT&T from liability even in
cases where it has violated the law.
The court also held unlawful provisions in the AT&T contract barring
arbitrators from awarding punitive and other damages, and imposing a two-year
limitations period for customers to file any claim in arbitration, even
though nearly all California consumer protection laws allow consumers
to file claims for at least three or four years from the time of injury.
Noting that the average daily rate of arbitrator compensation in Northern
California is $1,899, the court held the required resort to arbitration
would effectively prevent consumers from vindicating their rights.