Postville UPDATE: Agriprocessor's Owner Charged with Child Labor Violations
Yesterday, the owner and managers of Agriprocessors meatpacking plant were slapped with over 9,000 misdemeanors for child labor violations. As you all know, the plant was the target of a massive Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in May of this year. The AP reports:
The owner and managers of the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant were charged Tuesday with more than 9,000 misdemeanors alleging they hired minors and had children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment such as circular saws and meat grinders.
Two employees were also charged in federal court. The state and federal charges are the first against operators of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, where nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers were arrested in May in one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history.
The complaint filed by the Iowa attorney general's office said the violations involved 32 illegal-immigrant children under age 18, including seven who were younger than 16. Aside from handling dangerous equipment, the complaint says children were exposed to dangerous chemicals such as chlorine solutions and dry ice.
So it seems like the government is finally going after the leaders of the company and not just punishing the hard-working employees. It looks like the plant, which is a kosher meatpacking plant, may face reprecussions in other areas. The Iowa Gazette reports:
Agriprocessors is the leading supplier of kosher beef, which meets the religious dietary requirements of Jewish consumers. Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union, a leading kosher certification organization, told The Gazette the union will suspend its certification of Agriprocessors' products within a few weeks because of the charges unless the company appoints a new chief executive officer.
It looks like things won't be going back to normal in Postville anytime soon. As I reported earlier this week, the crime rate has gone up since the May raid and residents are still feeling uneasy about the future.
Postville resident Dave Hartley, 50, said it was troubling that the allegations would put the town back in the spotlight.
"You want things to get back to normal," Hartley said. "I wouldn't say it's turmoil in town, per se, but people are just wondering what's going to happen."
For more on this story, listen to the NPR report from Jennifer Ludden.