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June 26, 1998     Cape Gazette
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June 26, 1998
 

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48 - CAPE , Friday, June 26 July 2, 1998 Bush & REAL ESTATE Poultry industr3 under f'tre from Justice AIHance By Michael Short The Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance (DPJA) is taking the poultry industry to task, charging it with holding poultry growers and workers virtually hostage. The Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI), a nearly 4,000-member trade association, fired back by calling the charges a shameless at- tempt to harm the thousands of people who depend on the indus- try. In a press conference on Friday, June 12, the alliance accused the "big chicken" industry of unsafe working conditions and called for a new social alliance concerned with the needs of workers and growers. The alliance made its announce- ment at the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Flanked by about a dozen people, the Rev. Jim Lewis of the Sussex County Mission of the Episcopal Church said that or- ganizers hope to raise awareness and begin a national movement. Lewis said "the industry has created a legacy of rampant wage inequalities and health and safety problems in their plants, growers working under company-dictated contracts are unable to make a liv- ing, and serious environmental problems." "We pledge to make the next 50 years serve the needs of the peo- ple of the poultry industry - the workers, the growers and the com- munity," Lewis said. According to a statement from Bill Satterfield of DPI, "the al- liance claims the poultry compa- nies are mistreating workers. This is nonsense. Entrylevel processing plant wages are considerably higher than minimum wage and considerably higher than starting wages in other industries. There are very attractive benefits pack- ages. With the low rate of unem- ployment on Delmarva, compa- nies cannot afford to mistreat workers because they can go to other jobs. It just does not make sense to mistreat workers when there is already a labor shortage." Satterfield said DPI members include five integrated poultry companies, the majority of Del- marva's 2,600 contract poultry growers, more then 1,000 poultry company employees, hundreds of allied industry suppliers of prod- ucts and services and hundreds of Delmarva-based businesses. Here are some of the specific al- liance claims: More than 66 percent of poul- try contract farmers earn wages below the poverty line for a fami- ly of four, according to the Na- tional Contract Poultry Growers Association; Poultry workers suffer an in- jury rate that is twice the national average for manufacturing. In 1995, 18 percent of poultry work- ers suffered a serious injury; 60 percent of poultry plants were found to be in violation of the nation's basic wage-and-hour laws, according to a sample sur- vey conducted by the U. S. De- partment of Labor. Satterfield replied with some claims of his own: A report used by the alliance to detail alleged abuse was al- legedly based on interviews with only 100 poultry workers. Satter- field noted that there are 14,100 poultry company employees on the peninsula; Satterfield said most growers are satisfied with the industry. He provided the following quotes from a survey completed at the end of 1997, called the "Poultry Growers Speak Out" survey: "The vast majority of poultry growers were satisfied with their business as a poultry grower. Over 73 percent indicated they were satisfied...Growers expressed rel- atively high satisfaction with their poultry business, their company and their flock superviso...Over 70 percent of growers were opti- mistic about the future of the poultry industry on the Delmarva Peninsula...Nearly three-quarters agreed that they can speak freely with their company." The National Interfaith Com- mittee for Worker Justice distrib- uted a code of ethics developed in 1997 in cooperation with poultry experts. The code calls for the poultry businesses to treat workers with respect pay workers living wages provide fair benefits ensure that workers are safe on the job guarantee workers' rights to organize a union without fear negotiate contracts with grow- er cooperatives that allow farmers to receive a fair return on their in- vestments negotiate in good faith with workers' elected representatives assist immigrants with their transition into a new community and country. One poultry worker, Maria Martinez, said at the June 12 press conference in Millsboro that "this alliance is going to bring justice." Satterfield noted that there are people in any work force who are unhappy and said the alliance ef- forts are strongly union-influ- enced. To support that claim, he noted that the Baltimore-based Public Justice Center report de- tailing poultry worker concerns Rev. Jim Lewis outlines the ideas and goals of the Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance during a Friday, June 12 press con- ferenee. was funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Lewis agreed that unions are part of the alliance, a group that describes itself as being an al- liance of workers, farmers, reli- gious leaders, environmentalists and unions. But he denied that this is primarily a union effort, saying that he expected the poultry ifidus- try to try to paint it as such. Satterfield, in a written state- ment released after the press con- ference, said the "attack on the poultry industry is a shameless at- tempt by the alliance, the unions and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware to harm the lives and livelihoods of 14,100 poultry company workers, 2,600 contract poultry growers and hundred of corn and soybean farmers who supply the industry." Lewis said this is just an effort to find justice. 'q'he DPJA is here to say that all of these hands are going public [a reference to the chicken in the shape of a hand lo- go used by DPJA]," he said during the press conference. "All of these hands are being raised in solidari- ty to bring about change in the poultry industry, where change is needed. All of these hands are or- ganizing a campaign to make the poultry industry---big chicken-- do what is fair, what is just and what is right." He described the various hands, concluding "I would be so bold as to say, it is the hand of God reach- ing out to all of God's creation for justice and a moral and ethical claim on the inordinate power amassed by a greedy poultry in- dustry." What to expect in closing costs on a home purchase Many are taking advantage of this year's low mortgage rates to purchase a home. Pent up with ex- citement, many families, who have scrimped and saved for a downpayment, jump for joy when the mortgage lender finally ap- proves their application. But they should realize that there's a whole new set of expenses that must be covered before actually closing on the sale. New homeowners are often tak- en aback by upfront closing costs such as mortgage and title insur- ance, attorney's fees. recording fees and loan points, which can run into the thousands of dollars. But there is no need to be afraid of these charges. With a little back- ground on their purpose and shrewd financial foresight, clos- ings can be a breeze. A lender's charge for proce- FINANCIAL FOCUS Denise ingJhe loan can be determined at the beginning of your buying process. Referred to as "points," these charges are expressed as a percentage of the total loan. For instance, three points are equal to 3 percent of the borrowed amount. "Points" can also become a tool for negotiation with the lender and seller. In a buyer's market, home sellers will often agree to pay mortgage fees in order to close a deal. Title insurance can be a sub- stantial expense. The policy cov- ers any financial setback caused by unforseen defects in the pur- survey inspections, although in- cluded in the official closing state- ment, are conducted and paid for long before the closing date. How- ever, buyers should consider them as additional upfront costs. Some closing costs, such as points, are fully tax deductible for that tax year if you show proof of a separate lump-sum payment. chased property and home. The one-time title fee,. including search and examination, averages about $430 for a $100,000 home, but it's recommended that you check with a local title insurance agent ahead of time to effectively determine what you'll owe before closing. Additional costs, such as attor- ney's charges and recording, transfer and inspection fees, can also be predicated ahead of time by the buyer. Most often pest and They are not deductible in a few cases when the loan is the result of refinancing rather than a home . purchase, Application, appraisal, documentation and broker fees cannot be deducted. Some states require payment of property taxes at closing. In some instances, buyers and sellers are asked to put money into an escrow account that will cover any past and future tax obligations. Be sure to check with an attorney or real estate agent before the closing to determine your property tax com- mitments. Also, be prepared to pay any as- sessments if you are buying a con- dominium or into an association- governed property. Fees for credit reports, notary public seals and as- sumptions, which includes the processing of official documents, may also arise. Knowing what the total closing costs will be before starting your home search can help you better understand what price range is right for you. In the end, the process of closing on a mortgage will be easier than you think, leav- ing more time to plan for your new home. Denise Moore is a Realtor with Century 21 Rehoboth Bay Realty at 14 Peddlers Village. She can be reached at 945-7600, or by e-mail at \.