Benefit Concert Raises $900 for Palauans

Post a Comment » Written on November 25th, 2008     
Filed under: News
DECORAH, IA (November 25, 2008) – A benefit concert at Decorah Covenant Church (DCC) raised $900 to benefit Palauan former employees of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in nearby Postville.

The workers were displaced from their homes November 14 after the company did not pay them and the landlord had utilities turned off, according to news reports. Since November 15, many of them have stayed in a building own by the church.

The concert featured Christian music from a local band and the DCC Worship Team. The Palauans also performed native dances.

“We had an absolutely wonderful time,” says Donalee Burns, the church administrative assistant.

Money from the concert will help re-settle the Palauans, says Burns. Eleven of the roughly 20 Palauans who have been sheltered at the church have moved to other parts of the country.

The church and other participants in the Decorah Area Faith Coalition are working to help the Palauans move or find employment in the area. Members of the coalition also have brought groceries and provided other services to the Palauans.

Some of the Palauans are hoping to stay in the area and were attending a job fair in Postville today, Burns said.

The employees from the South Pacific nation were recruited to work at Agriprocessors after 300 primarily Guatemalan workers were arrested during an immigration raid May 12. The Palauans are in the country legally.

The company faces mounting legal problems. It was fined nearly $10 million last month for state labor violations and faces more than 9,000 counts of child labor law violations.

It has shut down operations and filed for bankruptcy. Former Agriprocessors chief executive officer Sholom Rubashkin is in jail on federal charges of defrauding First Bank Business Capital of St. Louis, which recently foreclosed on a $35 million line of credit.

Rubashkin also was recently charged with conspiring to hire illegal immigrants, and other company officials have faced related charges, including conspiring to harbor undocumented aliens and aggravated identity theft.

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