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Postville kosher supervisor denies report of walkout

The top kosher supervisor at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, is denying reports that some of his rabbis staged a walkout yesterday in frustration over reduced pay. The Jewish Star reports that Weissmandl “denied emphatically” that the rabbis “staged any sort of job action Wednesday.”

Weissmandl admits, however, the essential details of what was reported – there have been delays in payments to the supervisors, work shifts (and thus total income) for the rabbis have been reduced, a complaint was made to management about it yesterday, and production was interrupted as a result. Weissmandl says what took place was an impromptu “conversation” that the rabbis engaged in when they spotted Heshy Rubashkin on the production floor. He said the conversation should have happened after hours and called it “shlemazeldik” – not sure exactly what that means, but shlemazel is Yiddish for “unlucky person.”

In general, a fee for kosher supervision is paid to a certifying agency who then hires the rabbis who provide the supervision – in this case Agriprocessors pays Weissmandl who then hires the supervisors, who are technically considered his employees. The Star reports that the company has met its financial obligations to Weissmandl in a “timely” manner. He would not say, though, whether it is he or Agriprocessors that directly pays the kosher supervisors.

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