‘The Men of Atalissa’

It is great to hear when “the system” actually works. In this morning’s NY Times, Dan Barry has written┬áan incredible article, profiling a group of intellectually-disabled men.

21 men lived together in a bunk house and worked at a turkey-processing plant. They were paid insanely low wages and lived in terrible conditions. For decades. Their job was to remove the guts from the turkeys, and they processed 20,000 a day.

Now, in their 60s, the men have no pensions or savings from all that work. Food and lodging were “deducted” from their paychecks, as well as payments for a future retirement location that never happened. For all of their long days, the men in the end only made about $65 a month, or 44 cents an hour, an amount that did not change for decades.

Also, the men were punished if they didn’t work hard enough. The men reported that they were hit, kicked, and if not compliant, were chained to their beds. The doors to their bunk house were locked and chained from the outside.

It was a clear case of human trafficking.

Finally, one day, a social worker heard about the men and intervened. They were rescued. A happy ending.

One of my aunts was born with Down’s Syndrome. She unfortunately died young, and I never met her. But, for the men of Atalissa, and for her, I believe everyone deserves a life of freedom and safety. No one should be “used.” Each person deserves dignity.

A documentary on the Atalissa case is below (or, click here).

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