Agriprocessors might face labor charges

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The Iowa Labor Commissioner’s Office has sent dozens of alleged violations against Agriprocessors to the state attorney general for prosecution.

In its investigation, the labor office found 57 cases of alleged child labor violations by the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, according to a news release from the Iowa Workforce Development. Each case includes multiple violations.

“The investigation brings to light egregious violations of virtually every aspect of Iowa’s child labor laws,” said Dave Neil, the state’s labor commissioner. “It is my recommendation that the Attorney General’s Office prosecute these violations to the fullest extent of the law.”

Allegations against the Agriprocessors’ plant include minors working in prohibited occupations, failing to obtain work permits, exceeding the allowable hours, and using prohibited tools, according to Neil. Under Iowa law, each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.

Agriprocessors has been struggling to restore its production capacity and revive its public image since May 12, when a federal immigration raid on the plant netted 389 illegal workers. The company has denied wrongdoing. — jta

Conservative movement unveils initiative

The Conservative movement’s ethical kashrut initiative was unveiled last week.

The initiative, Hekhsher Tzedek, aims to certify kosher food produced by companies that adhere to standards of worker safety and environmental sensitivity, among other criteria. The certification would complement a traditional kashrut stamp.

Hekhsher Tzedek has gained prominence in the aftermath of the May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors, the largest kosher meat producer in the United States, which has come under fire for allegedly mistreating its workers.

Agriprocessors has denied wrongdoing. Last week a group of Orthodox rabbis toured the slaughterhouse in Iowa, giving the facility high praise for safety and kosher compliance. The company paid for the tour.

Participants said there were no restrictions on where they could go in the plant and with whom they could speak.

“I was shocked when I walked into that plant because I was expecting a lot worse,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the executive vice president of National Council of Young Israel. In a statement, Lerner referred to the plant as a “Cadillac.” — jta