Agriprocessors Responds to “Unjust” Dialogue

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rubashkin.gifA 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)




6 COMMENTS

  1. Here is what I just recieved from a chavor tov of mine who works there…

    With all the rumors and stories in the papers circulating about Agri, I
    would like to say a few things.

    – This is not a statement from the company, rather it is coming from an
    individual – myself.

    – The UFCW (which is the union for food workers) has been trying to unionize
    Agri for many years now and has representatives in Postville dedicated to
    this. They have failed twice in votes by the employees in unionizing the
    workforce. As is their policy when they fail to unionize a workforce through
    a vote, they embark on a “Corporate Campaign” against the corporation
    itself, in order to pressure them to join the union. Here
    is some information about the concept. The
    UFCW in its capital campaign against Agri has been smearing the company with
    many twisted facts. Currently the UFCW is being sued by Smithfield (one of
    the largest meat producers in America) for the UFCW’s corporate campaign
    against it, you can read about it here
    .
    And let’s not forget PETA, who has one agenda and one agenda only. Namely,
    to abolish all meat eating from the planet.

    – As mentioned earlier in this thread, this has nothing to do with Kashrus.
    The conservative movement has pounced on this opportunity to enter the
    kashrus field under the banner of “Hechsher Tzedek” – to observe the working
    conditions at a plant (Let us not forget that the plant is already
    supervised by the USDA and the government agency for workplace safety –
    OSHA, and while there have been fines, they are at normal industry levels or
    if anything better than average). If they were truly concerned with worker
    conditions at a plant, why have they not looked into any other source for
    their food, clothing and cars etc. In addition, many other people with an
    agenda against frum yiddishkeit have jumped in. Just look at the amount of
    stories being published by the JTA and the forward. Any excuse they have for
    a story they publish and rehash everything up to this point. I. e. they had
    a story that Agri was hiring some homeless people from Texas and the other
    day there was a story about how Agri hired a PR firm…

    – There have not been any charges brought against the company. Everything
    you hear is allegations that can be made by anyone who worked at the plant
    and is disgruntled. I. e. the alleged production of drugs at the plant, do
    anyone of you take that charge seriously?! (in fact it has been dropped by
    most news sources). While Agri may have made some mistakes, they have never
    paid anyone under minimum wage or everyone ever hired had papers (the same
    papers the people used to get drivers licenses, open bank accounts…), Agri
    cannot comment or respond to these allegations because they are part of an
    ongoing legal investigation. The immigration issue is an impossibly
    complicated one in America, if you ask too many questions of an employee,
    you can be sued for discrimination. I.e. There are some states the have
    deemed illegal to screen workers with e-verify (an electronic verification
    system) and it is illegal in all states to screen current workers (even if
    you would screen your entire workforce).

    – In response to the complaints you hear from workers who have been hired
    after the raid. I.e. not receiving what they were promised, complaints about
    the work etc… There were many rumors circulating about what Agri is
    promising which lead to mistaken expectations. Agri has paid everyone what
    they were promised. Regarding complaints about the work, whichever way you
    will slice it, meatpacking is labor intensive and you are working in a room
    which is 30 degrees. I worked on the production line at the plant for two
    weeks and saw firsthand how the workers complaining were just not ready for
    this type of work. Now that things are more settled, the human resources
    firm they hired to employ new workers is doing a more thorough job of
    screening potential employees.

    – The bottom line is this. You can believe what people who clearly have an
    agenda (Not only against Agri, but against shechita, kashrus and frum
    yiddishkeit in general) have to say, or you can stand by a fellow frumme Yid and wait until the facts and the truth are clear. I mean
    afterall don’t we believe in “innocent until proven guilty”?.

  2. The big tzadikim behind the “news conference” are the ones we will all want to know about(including their names and other information), to publicize the effects of their one-sided public meeting. When prices go up, we will want to know why. When access to kosher meat is closed in some places, we will want to know why. When their supposed agenda of “change” is implemented, we will want to know what results they caused.
    People who think in short term attacks, reap only short term gains. We will iy”H be around to teach them and others the long term effects they ignored in their zealous rush to one sided justice. It is no coincidence that they worjed to smear during the sedra of Korach.

  3. If you want to know about unions ask the 40,000 Eastern airlines employees that were members of the united aircraft and aerospace workers union. The union wanted to teach CEO Frank Lorenzo a lesson so the struck the company into chapter 7 and 40,000 workers lost their jobs. Unions care about people? Unions care about perpetuating strife between labor and management to give them selves a reason to exist. Ask the old fedex employees who were perfectly happy to work in a non-union shop until they merged with flying tigers and flying tigers instituted a slowdown that threated the company and its reputation to force the fedex employees to join the union. Fedex employees, because they care about therir company and its reputation, joined the union in order to preserve the reputation of the company. unions are for lazy people. Neither management nor hard working people have a problem without a union.

  4. bacci40: No one is denying that labor unions have been responsible for important reforms. But it’s when unions start to abuse their power and adopt roughneck tactics that people get legitimately upset. The example by one of the writers of the Eastern Airline debacle has been repeated in dozens, no hundreds of cases! I suspect there’s a lot of truth to the allegation that the union wants to smear Agri for the sole purpose of strongarming Agri into a contract with the union. When the unions become gangsters, that’s when people have every right to call a spade a spade and stand up for their rights.