Financial incentives to Seaboard Triumph Foods have been restored by state economic development officials after an investigation found no evidence the Sioux City, Iowa, pork plant abused or mistreated Micronesian workers, reports the Sioux City Journal.
In September, the government of the Federated States of Micronesia filed a formal request for the U.S. government to investigate Seaboard Triumph Foods after receiving dozens of complaints of "serious and sustained abuse," including verbal, physical and emotional harassment.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority responded by placing a temporary hold on remaining portions of the $16.5 million of incentives the agency had awarded the plant, the Sioux City Journal reports.
In its official complaint to the U.S. State Department, the Micronesian government said some workers complained that they had to do work inconsistent with what recruiters had told them and the contracts they had signed. The article said they also claimed that Seaboard Triumph Foods issued them fake Social Security numbers, seized their passports and refused to provide them with copies of their employment contracts.
The company launched its own investigation into the complaint and explained that they provided the workers with a temporary tax identification number until they received their permanent Social Security cards. STF denied holding any employees' passports and said harassment in the workplace is "absolutely prohibited,” the article said.
State officials finished reviewing the case last month. They said they had received no credible evidence so far and lifted the hold placed on the project in early December.
Mayor Bob Scott said he thinks the state made the right decision, the article said.
"I don't think there was credible evidence when there were still so many people down there working every day," Scott told the Sioux City Journal. "Certainly, they obviously must've satisfied the ambassador or whoever it was or it would still be on hold, I would guess."
In fall 2017, the $301-million plant opened in the city’s Bridgeport West Business Park and now employs around 2,000 workers.