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Last week in Postville

Another week of stunning revelations out of Postville. Let’s recap:

  • The PR firm Agri hired to help revive its image, 5WPR, ran into some image problems of its own when evidence emerged connecting the publicity company to comments to various Web sites in the name of Rabbi Morris Allen, an advocate for ethical kashrut standards who has been one of Agri’s fiercest critics. So far Agri has been mum on the issue, but a blogger at PRBlogNews says the company is making publicists look bad and the executive responsible should be fired.
  • The Des Moines Register ran a lengthy piece reviewing worker injury claims at Agriprocessors going back several years and found that state inspectors were routinely denied access to the plant to investigate complaints. Three amputations at the plant within five weeks of each other in 2005 resulted in state fines of $7,500. The Register followed with a scathing editorial calling such incidents “unconscionable.”
  • The New York Times also had a good original story followed by an editorial. The story was about a Spanish language translator who worked on the judicial proceedings against the detained Postville workers who wrote an essay criticizing the process. In the editorial, the Times argues that Agri’s workers charged with identity theft weren’t looking to steal, only to get jobs, and shouldn’t be treated like criminals.
  • Also in the Times, journalist Sam Freedman traveled to Postville to write about Father Paul Ouderkirk, a Catholic priest who came out of retirement to help parishioners coping with the aftermath of the federal raid.