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N.Y. Times: Agriprocessors’ reputation is “ugly”

The New York Times weighed in with its latest editorial on the fallout from the May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors, the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the U.S. (See previous editorial here).

Most of the newspaper’s ire was reserved for the federal government, whose criminalization of the illegal workers it called “a disgrace,” “a fraudulent exercise,” and “cruel” – echoing many of the descriptors used last week in hearings on the subject in Washington.

But the paper also rehearsed the litany of complaints against the company itself, in part to account for its outrage at the government’s targeting of the workers rather than the employers who hired them:

A slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, develops an ugly reputation for abusing animals and workers. Reports of dirty, dangerous conditions at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant accumulate for years, told by workers, union organizers, immigrant advocates and government investigators. A videotape by an animal-rights group shows workers pulling the windpipes out of living cows. A woman with a deformed hand tells a reporter of cutting meat for 12 hours a day, six days a week, for wages that labor experts call the lowest in the industry. This year, federal investigators amass evidence of rampant illegal hiring at the plant, which has been called “a kosher ‘Jungle.’ “

The conditions at the Agriprocessors plant cry out for the cautious and deliberative application of justice.

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