Meat plant accused of child labor violations

From the Associated Press

The Iowa labor commissioner’s office said Tuesday that it had uncovered dozens of child labor violations at the nation’s biggest supplier of kosher meat.

Officials said their investigation, which spanned several months, uncovered 57 cases of child labor law violations at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, where nearly 400 workers were arrested in the spring.

The types of violations included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours for youth to work, failing to obtain work permits, being exposed to hazardous chemicals and working with prohibited tools.


“The investigation brings to light egregious violations of virtually every aspect of Iowa’s child labor laws,” Dave Neil, Iowa labor commissioner, said in a statement. “It is my recommendation that the attorney general’s office prosecute these violations to the fullest extent of the law.”

Juda Engelmayer, an Agriprocessors spokesman, declined to comment.

Federal immigration agents arrested 389 undocumented workers, mostly Guatemalans, in a May 12 raid at the Agriprocessors plant.

Allegations of child labor violations were included in an initial affidavit and a search warrant that led to the raid at Agriprocessors.

Several underage workers who said they were employed at the plant have spoken out since the raid.

At a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last month in Postville, 17-year-old Gilda Yolanda Ordonez Lopez wept as she described being forced to work shifts as long as 12 hours with no overtime pay.

“They asked me how old I was, and I told them the truth,” she said.