A local Postville, IA clergyman, an advocate for a new kosher standard, and two immigration reform support groups conducted a conference call today under the guise of seeking “accountability for Agriprocessors.” These groups voiced their opinions and offered one-sided comments to select media also present on the call.
The intentional exclusion of Agriprocessors perspective from this call demonstrates the opposition’s agenda, and reveals a calculated undertaking aimed at closing the company. Instead of fostering an open and honest forum, the call purposely stifled a critical side of this dialogue. Had Agriprocessors been given an opportunity to comment on that call, participants would have learned of the company’s intentions to boost the economy and job market in Postville and northeast Iowa and to continue to provide quality kosher meat at affordable prices.
Recent undertakings include:
▪Immigration compliance expert Jacob Monty of Monty Partners joined the team on May 13, 2008 to audit staff hiring functions and incorporate the ICE Best Practices into Agriprocessor’s hiring practices.
▪Former United States Attorney Jim Martin was retained on June 5, 2008, and has spent significant time at the Postville facility. In his role, Mr. Martin is responsible for all of the company compliance. His initial priorities have been immigration compliance, worker health and safety, and instituting corporate compliance mechanisms. Already an anonymous1-800 hotline for employees has been put in place through which employees can submit complaints and concerns about company practices.
▪Jacobson Staffing, a reputable staffing and HR outsourcing company, has been handling hiring function and many HR functions.
▪The company hired an OSHA expert consultant in early May 2008, who together with Mr. Martin has worked with company officials to install new safety measures and procedures.
▪The company management has made a strong commitment to implementation and institutionalization of these measures as well as additional ones currently in development.
Again, due to the absence of the Agriprocessors voice, the attendees on the call were subjected to a one-sided rant that at times became hostile, with hosts – who do not practice law – voicing strong legal opinions. A truly honest effort to help improve the situation in Postville for its residents and guests would demand that Agriprocessors be part of such a conversation. Yet, the lack of Agriprocessors involvement leads one to question their motives.
Let it be clear that a company the size of Agriprocessors is not merely a financial engine for its owners, but is important to the local economy in Postville and northeast Iowa. We are working tirelessly to assure the public that our plant is still producing quality products, employing local talent when possible, and pumping needed resources back into the community.
The potential impact of a decrease in productivity at the plant could devastate local and nearby economies. Small farmers could be left to sell to the large conglomerates, hence eliminating the competitive edge a sizable local competitor brings. Given the current cost of grain, energy and transportation, the hard reality is that even the slightest loss of access to kosher meat and poultry would further drive up kosher beef and poultry prices across the country; higher cost in an already expensive market. Some consumers might lose all access to kosher meat and poultry products.
To help local families in the wake of the devastating flooding taking place in Iowa, Agriprocessors has donated thousands of pounds worth of meat for distribution to families through the Red Cross as well as providing food and supplies through its local distributors to Postville food pantries. Throughout its 20 years in Postville, Agriprocessors has donated to local causes, helped build community and religious centers and has been a friend to Postville and Iowa.
We are committed to the people of Postville and Iowa and look forward to building a better and stronger future for everyone we impact, while providing quality food that people can rely upon and enjoy.
(Agri statement submitted to YWN)