Attorney General files child labor charges against Agriprocessors

The Iowa Attorney General’s office on Tuesday charged the Agriprocessors meat-packing facility with more than 9,000 child labor law violations involving 32 minors. The owner and four Agriprocessors employees were named in the charges. A spokesman for the company said the children had lied about their ages, so the company was not at fault.

The Des Moines Register quoted Attorney General Tom Miller as saying the action will not force the closure of the Postville plant. However, I wouldn’t be too sure of that if the Orthodox Union follows through on its warning to withdraw its kosher supervision from Agriprocessors unless new management is installed at the company and at the Postville plant.

I can’t overstate the importance of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification to Agriprocessors’ business. The overwhelming majority of its customers would refuse to buy any meat lacking the “U” symbol from the Orthodox Union.

Incidentally, Congressman Bruce Braley issued a statement praising Miller’s office for prosecuting alleged child labor offenses.

Congressman Tom Latham (whose district includes Postville) released no statement, in keeping with his pattern of saying little about Agriprocessors since a federal immigration raid turned the spotlight on the company in May.

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