Ballard North

Credit KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

For generations, immigrants from Seattle have migrated north to seek their fortunes in the Alaskan fishing industry.

Filipinos were among the first, and remain the largest group, but recently East Africans have joined the throngs.

In this series we look at what life is like for this new wave of seafood processing workers.

"Ballard North" was produced with the support of the Program Venture Fund, in partnership with The Seattle Globalist. It was reported by Jessica Partnow,  with additional reporting by Alex Stonehill, Sarah Stuteville, and Feliks Banel. The series was edited by Carol Smith. 

High Risk Awaits Immigrants In Alaska’s 'Ballard North'

Oct 18, 2015
Salahaldin Adam, outside the Trident North plant in Cordova. Adam is showing the swelling on his right hand, which he hurt after just a few weeks on the job.
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

In Ballard, a human resources manager for Trident Seafoods talks to a room of people hoping to be seafood processors – warning them of the dangers of the job.

SEAN CASADY, HR DIRECTOR: "You need to be able to stand on your feet for up to 16 hours a day in cold and wet conditions."

Sonny Nguyen outside of the auto parts store he owns in the town of Unalaska on the port of Dutch Harbor. He’s a refugee from Vietnam who moved to Seattle in 1976 and then went to Dutch Harbor where he’s lived on and off for 30 years.
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

The yard in front of the CARQUEST Auto Parts store on this remote Alaskan island is crowded with old cars.

Sonny Nguyen, the store’s owner, keeps them because it can be faster to grab a part from the front yard than to get it shipped out here. Nguyen first came here in 1977.

Silme Domingo, left, and Gene Viernes, right, were murdered at a union hall in Seattle. It took a determined group of people to expose an international conspiracy behind the murders.
University of Washington Digital Archives

On Monday, June 1, 1981, Seattle’s KIRO TV reported a shooting in Pioneer Square.

KIRO: “The shots were fired right around a quarter of 5 this evening, shots that apparently were not heard by anyone else. The two victims were inside the union office.”

Following The Money Trail To Alaska's 'Ballard North'

Oct 18, 2015
Abdirahman Shire in his dormitory room. Room and board are free or cost less than $15 a day for seafood processing workers (depending on their contract and from plant to plant).
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

A few years after Abdirahman Shire moved to the U.S., he found work at a Tyson Foods chicken factory in Kentucky.

That’s when he got a call from a friend, another Somali guy he’d known in a refugee camp in Uganda.