Below is the Associated Press report, and under it is a statement released by Agriprocessors a short while ago:
Associated Press Report: The Iowa Labor Commissioner’s Office announced today that it has uncovered dozens of child labor violations at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville.
Labor officials say their investigation, which spanned several months, had uncovered 57 cases of child labor law violations.
The types of violations included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours to work youth and working with prohibited tools
Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil says the investigation brings to light egregious violations of virtually every aspect of the state’s child labor laws.
The attorney general’s office says it could not comment on what penalties are possible. State officials declined to release details on how many children may be involved or their ages.
Statement by Agriprocessors: Postville, Iowa 5:00 p.m. August 5, 2008 – Agriprocessors is at a loss to understand the Iowa Labor Commissioner’s referral and press release of today on the issue of alleged child labor at Agriprocessors. As the government knows, it is Agriprocessors’ policy not to hire underage workers, and to terminate any employees who are determined to be under 18 years of age. In fact, in 2007, Agriprocessors terminated four employees whom it determined were underage and had provided false documents in order to obtain employment.
The Company has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, providing documents and opening its plant and its records to government inspection. In early 2008, government inspectors came to the Postville plant, looked for underage workers, identified two youthful looking employees for further investigation, investigated their background and ultimately allowed the employees to return to work. At no time did the government identify to the company any violations.
When the government told Agriprocessors in April 2008 that it knew that underage employees were working at the Postville plant, Agriprocessors repeatedly requested that the government identify those workers so that the company could terminate them. The Iowa Labor Commissioner’s Office refused. As a result of the government’s decision, apparently those children may have continued to work at the plant and presumably at least some were arrested in the May 12 ICE enforcement action.
The government now has seen fit to issue a press release alleging child labor law violations. The government’s press release does not state that the company knowingly hired underage workers. The company asks the public to keep an open mind and wait for the evidence before making any judgments about these, or any other, allegations.
(YWN Desk – NYC)