GLK Foods has been making sauerkraut in Bear Creek, Wis., for 112 years. Sauerkraut-making was an industry built by German immigrants, but it's now Mexican migrant workers who fill much of its ranks, cutting, fermenting and canning more cabbage at GLK Foods alone than the entire German nation. Sixty-five of those Mexican immigrants have now filed a class action lawsuit against GLK Foods for "violations of almost every term of their agreement and statutory rights," in the words of Matthew Piers, one of the lawyers representing the workers.
Since 2006, GLK Foods (formerly known as the Great Lakes Kraut Co.) recruited hundreds of Mexican immigrants through the H-2B visa program, which allows companies to hire foreign workers temporarily, usually for low-wage work. A company can only hire immigrants with this visa if there are no Americans "able, willing, qualified, and available" to do the work.