November 10, 2005

IL-Gov: Oberweis & Undocumented Workers

The immigration bashing, dairy magnate and Republican Jim Oberweis milked illegal labor.
Two undocumented workers from Mexico have filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor alleging Republican dairy magnate Jim Oberweis and a Lake in the Hills subcontractor paid them well below minimum wage to clean three suburban Oberweis ice cream shops.
Jim Oberweis calls the suit, ‘Dirty politics at work'.
Oberweis, who said he would never knowingly hire undocumented workers, questioned the timing of the complaint, which was formally filed Thursday by the coalition and Chicago Workers' Day Laborer Collaboration. He said Ramirez and Ibarra, 34, were "plants" set up by the groups who videotaped the two mopping the stores' floors and wiping its windows.

"Oberweis is proud of its employment record. We have always followed the spirit and letter of the law. I ask that the party behind this smear campaign get their facts right. It's dirty politics at work," Oberweis, 59, said.
During this failed 2004 campaign for Senate Jim Oberweis tried to scare people on issue of ‘Illegal aliens’.
"Illegal aliens are coming here to take American workers' jobs, drive down wages and take advantage of government benefits such as free health care, and you pay," Oberweis said in one of the spots.

Here we are a year later, and Oberweis, who is now running for governor, has an immigration problem of his own.

He doesn't have a stadium full of them. He has two people who say they worked in one of his ice cream shops. And they say they were paid just $3.25 an hour, half the state's minimum wage.
Did Oberweis hire illegal immigrants?
Apparently not. He put the blame on a subcontractor who provided cleaning services for the store. There is no evidence to show Oberweis himself knew of their immigration status.

But there is no question that he benefited from their labor. There is also no question that a lot of people like Oberweis have benefited from the labor of illegal immigrants in the U.S. [..]

Oberweis the dairy owner probably can't be faulted for the illegal labor used in his shop. But Oberweis the candidate surely looks disingenuous for his polarizing rhetoric on the danger he thinks that illegal immigrants pose to the U.S. (The figures in his ad, by the way, were inflated.)

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., and many employers like Oberweis depend on them to get jobs done. [..]

Maybe Oberweis will stop screaming about "smear tactics" and take a look at the work on immigration reform being done in a spirit of quiet cooperation. Maybe he'll even endorse it.
Jim Oberweis has terminated the janitorial company's cleaning contract. But, I predict he will not cancel this immigration bashing rhetoric or he might just subcontract to Tom Tancredo.

Cross-Post at my blog: A Liberal Stance on Politics


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