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Puerto Rico Bars New Jersey Agency From Recruiting On Its Facilities After Investigation
Puerto Rico Bars New Jersey Agency From Recruiting On Its Facilities
May 7, 2003
SCRANTON, Pennsylvania (AP) - Puerto Rico's government has banned a New Jersey-based employment agency from using its facilities to recruit workers for jobs in U.S. meat processing plants.
The ban comes after an investigation of the company's business practices, which have drawn fire.
Maxi Staff and parent company Ronell Industries Inc. will no longer be allowed to use offices and services within the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources for its recruitment, said Celeste Diaz Ferraro, director of communications for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington.
Ron Globerman, president of Ronell Industries of Roselle, New Jersey, could not be reached for comment.
Critics say Maxi Staff/Ronell uses deceptive practices to lure Puerto Ricans to the mainland United States and then profits excessively from them. Among the complaints:
-Recruits are promised a starting wage of up to $9.25 an hour but mostly start at $7 or less.
-Company-arranged housing is often overcrowded, substandard and in violation of local housing and safety regulations.
Maxi Staff, which had a Scranton office until recently, recruited Puerto Ricans for jobs in manufacturing plants in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Puerto Rico Blocks NJ Co From Recruiting Efforts
April 9, 2003
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP)--Puerto Rico has blocked a New Jersey-based employment agency from using government resources to recruit for jobs in meat-processing plants in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources is investigating allegations that Maxi Staff and parent company Ronell Industries Inc. mislead its recruits, said Victor Rivera Hernandez, Puerto Rico's secretary of labor.
Former workers have alleged that Maxi Staff brought them to Pennsylvania with promises of good-paying jobs and housing. The workers say that when they arrived they were paid less than promised and put in undesirable housing.
The department's investigation could result in Maxi Staff permanently losing permission to recruit in Puerto Rico, he said.
Officials with Roselle, N.J.-based Maxi Staff and Ronnell Industries could not be reached for comment.
An investigative series by The Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper last month found that complaints had been lodged against Maxi Staff in Scranton, Allentown, Bethlehem, Lewistown, Reading and Harrisonburg, Va.
"As a result of the stories published and the feedback we received, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources suspended all services Maxi Staff had been receiving under the terms of its 1998 permit while it conducts an investigation into the matter," said Celeste Diaz Ferraro, spokeswoman for Washington D.C.-based Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the agency that represents Puerto Rico in the United States.
The permit, a special waiver the Department of Labor granted to Maxi Staff, allowed the agency to use the department's offices and services for its recruitment.
Ferraro said Maxi Staff can still recruit in Puerto Rico, but it will no longer be allowed to use Department of Labor Employment Services offices.
"I suspect they will encounter a great deal more difficulty," she said.
Since it was founded in 1998, Maxi Staff has recruited about 5,000 Puerto Ricans to work in the United States.
Representatives of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Pennsylvania government plan to meet with Maxi Staff officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to discuss the complaints lodged against the agency by its employees, former employees and community leaders, Hernandez said.