Migrant Delta Egg Farm workers rehired by other contractors, says rep from ex-contractor

Workers let go from Delta Egg Farm in Delta and their supporters protest in the city on May 22. Perhaps 100 of them have been rehired, says a representative from the firm that previously contracted them.

Workers let go from Delta Egg Farm in Delta and their supporters protest in the city on May 22. Perhaps 100 of them have been rehired, says a representative from the firm that previously contracted them. (Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

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DELTA — After being let go last month when Delta Egg Farm ended its relationship with the contractor that had hired them, many of the migrant workers who lost their jobs, which included some undocumented employees, have returned.

"I would say they hired at least 100 of them back," said Pedro Gonzalez, who works for El Gallinero, the Delta-based labor contractor that had supplied migrant workers for the large egg-producing plant. He's still in contact with some of the workers in the Millard County city, and they have kept him updated on developments.

The Delta Egg Farm, owned by Ridgeland, Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods, ended its working relationship last month with El Gallinero, which led to the firing of around 150 to 200 workers who had been contracted to work for the operation, according to Gonzalez. The workers, many originally from Peru, marched through the city on May 22 to protest the sudden action, spearheaded by Carlos Lazaro, the El Gallinero owner.

At least some of the workers lack work authorization in the United States, according to Gonzalez and by their own admission to KSL.com, and the turn of events at Delta served to underscore the role of undocumented workers in the U.S. economy. "This is something that maybe regular people don't see," Gonzalez said.

At any rate, another contractor Delta Egg Farm used and one or two others have rehired some of the workers, including some who took part in the protest last month, Gonzalez said. Representatives from Delta Egg Farm or Cal-Maine's corporate office in Mississippi didn't immediately respond to queries seeking comment.

Initially, some of the workers who took part in the protest were rebuffed when they tried to get rehired. "They told them, 'No, you participated in the march. We don't want you,'" Gonzalez said.


However, after a contingent of other workers brought in to fill the vacant posts didn't work out — some of them from Venezuela, Gonzalez said — many of the let-go employees were hired back via different contractors. Many of them have years of experience working at the egg farm and are accustomed to the work.

"They are the ones that have the experience in working with pullets," Gonzalez said.

What's more, he noted that Venezuelan migrants fleeing the government of President Nicolás Maduro can qualify for temporary protected status, enabling them to get permits to lawfully work in the United States. That opens up more job opportunities beyond labor-intensive work in the agriculture sector.

The apparent presence of undocumented workers at Delta Egg Farm notwithstanding, Gonzalez doesn't foresee a crackdown from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other immigration officials. "They're not going to do it. They know it's going to create problems," Gonzalez said, alluding to reliance on undocumented workers in some economic sectors.

Gonzalez isn't sure why Delta Egg Farm wanted to end its relationship with El Gallinero. Lazaro, though, is mulling his legal rights given the abrupt end of his company's relationship with the egg producer. "It's a done deal with Carlos. Carlos is going to fight it with his lawyers," Gonzalez said.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.


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