A Modern Tale Of Meatpacking And Immigrants

January 28, 2010

Author: Kate Linthicum

Source: Los Angeles Times


Hawa Farah was living in Minneapolis three years ago making $8 an hour at a bakery when her fiance, Hussein Hussein, got a call about good jobs that paid better.

So the couple, like many Somali immigrants who follow work around the country, headed 600 miles southwest to Nebraska, state slogan: "The Good Life."

They settled in Grand Island, a blue-collar railroad town on the flat Midwestern prairie. They got married and brightened their worn apartment with plastic flowers and colorful rugs. Hussein, 33, began working the early shift on the "kill" side of the local meatpacking plant. Farah, 24, took a job on the "fabrication" side, trimming fat from brisket.

The promise of better pay was true enough.

But the good life would prove elusive. The young couple didn't know the plant's history and what it would mean for them.