Video from Agriprocessors

The National Council of Young Israel organized a company-sponsored visit for 25 Orthodox rabbis to Postville, Iowa, last week. Here is video shot by the Five Towns Jewish Times inside the plant.

WARNING to vegetarians and those of weak stomach (myself included): Video includes graphic footage from the kill floor.

UPDATE: Also today, the Iowa Labor Commissioner announced it had completed a months-long child labor investigation and is turning the results over to the attorney general for prosecution, citing “egregious” violations of state labor law.

Agriprocessors responded by saying it was “at a loss” to understand the commissioner’s action, claiming the government refused its request to identify child laborers so they could be fired.

The labor commissioner’s press release is here. The full Agriprocessors statement is after the jump.

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.

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