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Orthodox group drops meat boycott

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An Orthodox social justice group called off its boycott of the country’s largest kosher meat supplier less than a month after it began.

The boycott, organized by Uri L’tzedek, went into effect in mid-June in an effort to pressure Agriprocessors to institute mechanisms to ensure compliance with U.S. labor laws.

On Tuesday, the group said it was suspending the boycott because the company “is beginning to take significant steps towards directly addressing the concerns” raised about treatment of its workers.

Agriprocessors has sustained a wave of negative media coverage since May 12, when federal authorities conducted the largest workplace immigration raid in American history at its meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa.

In the wake of the raid, employees have claimed they were underpaid and sexually and physically abused. Agriprocessors officials deny the allegations and the federal government has yet to bring any charges against the company’s owners, the Lubavitch Rubashkin family of Brooklyn, N.Y.

As evidence of the company’s apparent turnaround, Uri L’tzedek cited a number of reforms it says have been instituted by James Martin, the new compliance officer hired by Agriprocessors. Among the reforms named are the creation of an anonymous tip line for workers, a new safety department and new safety training initiatives.

“In light of these early signs of reform, Uri L’tzedek is no longer calling for the community to abstain from purchasing Agriprocessors’ products,” the group said. “Time will show what kind of results these reforms will yield for the workers at Agriprocessors.”

 

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