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Baseball, the Beatles, and Senator Grassley’s Fake-out Pitch

February 05, 2009 - Posted by Mario Moreno

Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, sent a letter to Microsoft stating that, “It is imperative that in implementing its layoff plan, Microsoft ensures that American workers have priority in keeping their jobs over foreign workers on visa programs…Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first.”


 


During this economic crisis, companies that have been driving our economy must do what they can to turn the tide for the sake of the entire American economy.  But can the good Senator justify a “moral obligation” on companies, dictate personnel policies or business decisions solely on the basis of national origin?


 


If Senator Grassley had his way, then the New York Yankees would have had the same 'moral obligation' to hire American-born pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb instead of Panama-born Mariano Rivera.




Did the Boston Red Sox have the ‘moral obligation’ to hire Jeremy Giambi, and fire David Ortiz, regardless of their talents or contributions to the team?


 


Oh, and if he were moral, Ed Sullivan would surely have canceled on the Beatles and showcased instead…who?…Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas?


 


It’s true that our immigration system needs a major overhaul. We must try to build a system that balances the numbers of immigrant workers we will be allowing into the country with the needs of the economy. However, Senator Grassley’s idea is shortsighted, unrealistic, and perhaps a little disingenuous.


 


Claiming a “moral obligation,” and dictating to Microsoft on its personnel policies and business decisions, Senator Grassley seems to have forgotten what’s been happening in his own state of Iowa, including among his own campaign contributors.


 


Last May, the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in the small town of Postville, Iowa was found, not only to have been running its low-paying and backbreaking operation on undocumented workers, but also to have been abusing its workers for quite some time. Some of the immigrant workers being abused were found to be children. The Rubashkins who owned and operated the company are now facing charges of violating immigration and worker protection laws, including child labor violations. Julia Preston of the New York Times has reported on this story extensively.


 


Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy back in November, but what the small town of Postville knows is the difficult truth that many US industries know: to thrive, and sometimes just to survive, some businesses and American towns need immigrant workers and that allowing those workers into our country with visas and rights – or granting them legal status if they have already been here for some time – is important, even in these tough economic times.




The economic crisis is real. Families are suffering across Iowa, and throughout the country. This is no time for political grandstanding, no time for scapegoating. It is time for smart and sensible solutions. Working families across America know that. 


 


What many may not know, however, is that Senator Grassley’s campaigns received sizable campaign contributions from the Rubashkins (as reported in the Iowa Independent and elsewhere), from the owners of Agriprocessors who were abusing their workers, including children, treating them as if they were slaves and indentured servants.  What was that about “moral obligation,” Senator?

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