514 F.Supp. 68 (C.D.Ill. 1981), 78-0090, De La Fuente v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc.

Docket Nº78-0090.
Citation514 F.Supp. 68
Party NamePedro DE LA FUENTE et al., Plaintiffs, v. STOKELY-VAN CAMP, INC., et al., Defendants.
Case DateMarch 27, 1981
CourtUnited States District Courts, 7th Circuit, Central District of Illinois

Page 68

514 F.Supp. 68 (C.D.Ill. 1981)

Pedro DE LA FUENTE et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

STOKELY-VAN CAMP, INC., et al., Defendants.

No. 78-0090.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

March 27, 1981

Page 69

Ezequiel Tovar and F. Thomas Hecht, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Dodge Wells, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs.

Michael Scott, Justice Dept., Washington, D.C., for Federal Defendants except Department of Labor.

Pat Duryee, Dept. of Labor, General Legal Office, Washington, D.C., for Department of Labor.

Herb Snyder and James D. Moore, Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer & Boyd, Indianapolis, Ind., John Jenkins, Gunn, Hickman, Kesler & Jenkins, Danville, Ill., for defendants Solis and Stokely-Van Camp.

Richard R. Haldeman, Williams, McCarthy, Kinley, Rudy & Picha, Rockford, Ill., Hardin Hawes, Sebar, Swanson, Banks, Lessen & Garman, Danville, Ill., for defendant Marcelino Vasquez.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BAKER, District Judge.

In this suit for declaratory and injunctive relief and for money damages, the plaintiffs, who are migrant agricultural workers, claim that the private defendants have violated the provisions of three federal

Page 70

statutes-1 and thereby damaged the plaintiffs. The private defendants are farm labor contractors, their employees, and a producer of agricultural products. The plaintiffs claim only injunctive and declarative relief against the public defendants, The United States Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation and the Region V representative of the Department. Those claims are dealt with in the last part of this opinion.

Jurisdiction is vested in the court under 28 U.S.C. ss 1331, 1337, and 1361. 2

FINDINGS OF FACT

PLAINTIFFS

The plaintiffs, Pedro De La Fuente, Oscar De La Fuente, Emilio De Leon, Manuel Garza and Anselmo Solis are residents of the State of Texas. Spanish is the plaintiffs' primary language.

On June 12, 1979, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2) the plaintiffs were permitted to maintain their action against the private defendants for injunctive relief as a class on behalf of:

Class I: All persons who have been recruited since January 1, 1977 or will have been recruited through the Interstate Recruitment System by defendants, Stokely-Van Camp Inc., Albert Solis and Marcelino Vasquez for work in Illinois.

Class II: All migrant workers who have been employed since January 1, 1977 or will have been employed by defendant, Stokely, in Illinois and who allegedly have been transported or will have been transported by defendants, Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. or Marcelino Vasquez, within the meaning of the I.C.A., 49 U.S.C. s 10101 et seq. or the DOT Act, 49 U.S.C. s 1651 et seq.

The plaintiffs were also allowed to proceed as a sub-class and seek monetary damages against the private defendants as:

All persons who were recruited in Texas in 1977, 1978 and 1979 through the Interstate Recruitment System for work at Stokely-Van Camp, Inc.'s Illinois operations.

DEFENDANTS

The defendant Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. is an Indiana corporation licensed to do business in the State of Illinois. Its business activities in Illinois include the harvesting, processing, and packaging of agricultural products. The defendant Albert Solis is a resident of Mercedes, Texas. During 1977 and 1978 he was a year round employee of Stokely and in 1979 and 1980 was employed by Stokely on a seasonal basis. Solis' job was to recruit workers in Texas for Stokely's operations in Illinois. The defendant Marcelino Vasquez is a resident of Pharr, Texas and is a registered farm labor contractor. Vasquez has been employed by Stokely as a crew leader on a seasonal basis from 1977 to the present.

The defendant Stokely in its Illinois operations engages in the harvesting, processing, and packaging of sweet corn, lima beans, asparagus, and pumpkin. Stokely maintains canning facilities at Rochelle, Gibson City and Hoopeston, Illinois and in conjunction with those facilities operates migrant labor camps. The harvesting and canning season for Stokely's products begins, depending on the weather, in late April and extends through late September.

STOKELY'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CREW LEADERS

The relationship between Stokely and its crew leaders is typified by the relationship between Stokely and Vasquez. During harvest

Page 71

and packing Vasquez is an employee of Stokely. He is on the corporation payroll and subject to Stokely's control and immediate direction. During the periods when harvest and packing are not in progress, Vasquez, while he is not an employee, is still an agent. He recruits workers and holds his crew together ready to perform services for Stokely at its request. His acts as a recruiter are still subject to the control and direction of Stokely even though Vasquez is only on the payroll during canning and harvesting. There is no question that Stokely has the right to terminate Vasquez' services at any time if Stokely is dissatisfied with the way the services are rendered.

Stokely uses Vasquez, his equipment and employees, to transport migrant workers who perform services for Stokely. During the harvest and packing season the transported workers are Stokely employees and so are the crew leaders and their employees. Stokely advances funds to crew leaders to transport workers from Texas to Illinois. Stokely advances funds to crew leaders for vehicle insurance and inspection costs and pays crew leaders a per diem rate for the use of their vehicles during harvest and packing season.

MIGRANT WORKER RECRUITMENT PROCEDURES

In 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 Stokely recruited the plaintiffs and the members of their class in Texas to work in Stokely's agricultural business operations in Illinois. The defendant Stokely carried out its recruitment operations through its employee, the defendant Solis, and through its crew leaders.

To recruit workers for its operation Stokely uses the Interstate Recruitment System established under the Wagner-Peyser Act, 29 U.S.C. s 49 et seq. In each of the years, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980, which are the times in question in this case, Stokely prepared and submitted clearance orders to the Illinois State Employment Service (ISES) describing the type of work, the remuneration, the working conditions, and the number of employees required. The proposed clearance orders after they had passed inspection at the ISES were forwarded to the appropriate federal officials in the Department of Labor and upon approval they were returned to ISES which forwarded the completed clearance order to the Texas Employment Commission (TEC).

Stokely's recruiters, the defendants, Albert Solis, Marcelino Vasquez, and other crew leaders employed by Stokely, Ricardo Banda, Juan Robles, Candelario Palomo, and Fidencio Salinas would begin to contact migrant workers interested in coming to Illinois to work for Stokely. (Stokely also employed as crew leaders Eugenio Mendoza in 1978 and Guadalupe Santillana in 1978 and 1979.)

In addition to the clearance orders Stokely prepared an ISES form 560-C as required by Illinois law (Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 48, s 184.1) describing the terms and conditions of employment. The form 560-C was both in Spanish and in English. The clearance order was in English only. Eighty percent of the migrant workers recruited by Stokely do not speak or read English.

Each year prior to recruitment, Stokely sent employee representatives to Texas to meet with the defendant, Solis, and the crew leaders to exchange information as to the number of workers needed and the working conditions for the coming year. In 1977 Maurice Schellhardt, district manager of Stokely, and Robert Shelton, personnel manager at Stokely's Gibson City plant, went to Texas to assist Solis in recruitment. In 1978 Maurice Schellhardt, Robert Shelton and Dennis David, Stokely's personnel manager at Hoopeston, went to Texas to assist in the recruitment. In 1979 Robert Shelton, Dennis David and Benjamin Scott went to Texas as Stokely representatives to assist in the recruitment. In 1980 Maurice Schellhardt and Dennis David were the Stokely representatives in Texas.

Asparagus is the first crop of the season to be picked and processed and, as the date for that harvest approaches, Stokely gives notice to ISES of the departure date on which Stokely wishes the migrant workers to leave Texas for Illinois. ISES informs TEC which in turn informs the defendant

Page 72

Solis of the date of departure and he begins to gather the workers for that event. On or about the date of departure, final processing is carried out. Solis completes the workers' forms for insurance coverage, disburses travel and food allowances, has the workers execute an Employment, Housing and Transportation Agreement and distributes copies of the clearance orders, the forms 560-C, a statement of insurance coverage, and the Employment Housing and Transportation Agreement. Solis signs all contract documents as the representative of Stokely.

Between 1977 and 1980 according to Solis' testimony, which I credit, Stokely recruited, on the average, 380 migrant farmworkers per year to come from Texas to Illinois to work in Stokely's Illinois operations. The number recruited ranged from 450 in 1977 to 315 in 1980.

INTERIM EMPLOYMENT ARRANGEMENTS

In the years 1977, 1978 and 1979 the clearance orders promulgated by Stokely stated that Stokely would make efforts to develop jobs for its migrant workers with local employers in the idle periods between field work and cannery work.

In 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 Stokely did request Illinois seed corn companies to provide certain minimum terms of employment for interim employment offered by those companies to plaintiffs and members of their class...

To continue reading

Request your trial