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Protesters target St.

Cloud temp agency office
Workers voice concern with treatment, wages St. Cloud Times
Nov. 2 , 2!"# $

%&out '! protesters gather Tuesday morning to speak outside The Work Connection on 2(th %venue South and )oosevelt )oad alleging racial discrimination, and calling for fair treatment and &etter wages and &enefits for workers. * +imm %nderson, kanderson,stcloudtimes.com

Written &y

-ark Sommerhauser

Protesters gathered Tuesday outside a St. Cloud temporary employment agency to decry what they call its shoddy treatment of workers. At least 60 protesters lined 25th A enue South outside the St. Cloud office of The !ork Connection" a St. Paul#$ased agency. They critici%ed the agency&s use of a pay#card method to dis$urse workers& wages" said the agency has fired workers unfairly and treats many workers" particularly Somali workers" with disrespect. Protesters also called on St. Cloud#$ased '(P Company" which contracts with The !ork Connection to fill )o$s at its Cold Spring processing facility" to hire workers directly. The e ent was organi%ed $y the 'reater *innesota !orker Center" a new St. Cloud# $ased group that aims to help low#wage workers get $etter pay and working conditions. Some concerns oiced at the protest were directed at temp agencies in general. Protesters said employers& use of the agencies creates another hurdle to clear for low#wage workers looking to find steady )o$s. Some protesters also hoisted signs calling on lawmakers to $oost the minimum wage. +!orkers in greater *innesota need to stand together in the face of this so#called ,new economy& that treats workers like disposa$le commodities"- said Stephen Philion" an organi%er of the protest and chairman of the 'reater *innesota !orker Center $oard. Philion also is a sociology professor at St. Cloud State .ni ersity. The !ork Connection was targeted $ecause it&s widely $elie ed $y area workers to $e the most difficult to work with among local temp agencies" Philion said. The protesters compiled a list of concerns and deli ered it to The !ork Connection staff Tuesday. /eff !old" ice president of the company" said it will re iew the complaints and take action if needed. +!e&re committed to fairness0 we&re committed to treating people with respect"- !old said. '(P spokeswoman 1e2ann 3eischl said the company doesn&t ha e immediate plans to change its hiring practices. '(P has contracted with The !ork Connection for more than fi e years" primarily to hire entry#le el staff for the Cold Spring facility" and likes the arrangement" 3eischl said. +They pro ide the support we need when we need it"- 3eischl said. +!e don&t necessarily want to speciali%e in the hiring process.-

*ustafe A$dulahi of St. Cloud said his wages came through a pay card that charged a fee e ery time he used it0 he said he wasn&t gi en a choice to $e paid another way. !old said The !ork Connection employees are gi en a choice of $eing paid through a card" check or direct deposit. A$dulahi said some of what he descri$es as poor treatment of workers $y The !ork Connection seems to $e directed at Somalis and other immigrants. 4e said people who don&t speak flawless 5nglish face curt treatment from its staff and sometimes are unfairly eliminated from consideration for )o$ placement. +!e are e2pecting that they will treat us e6ually and also that they will treat our community as other agencies do"- A$dulahi said. .ollow -ark Sommerhauser on Twitter ,msommerhauser. http788www.sctimes.com8article8209:99268news098:992600:6