Meatpacking plant charged with thousands of child labor violations

Chris Rizo Sep. 9, 2008, 1:21pm

Tom Miller (D)

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - The owner and managers of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant have been charged with thousands of child labor law violations, the Iowa attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller claims that there were more than 9,000 violations of Iowa's child labor law at the company's plant in Postville, Iowa, from Sept. 9, 2007, to May 12, 2008, when the plant was raided by federal immigration authorities.

The violations involved 32 children under the age of 18, including seven who were younger than 16-years-old.

In court papers, the attorney general's office alleges that children were exposed to dry ice and chlorine solutions. Additionally, minors were operating such heavy machinery as conveyor belts, meat grinders and circular saws.

"All of the named individual defendants possessed shared knowledge that Agriprocessors employed undocumented aliens. It was likewise shared knowledge among the defendants that many of those workers were minors," an affidavit by the attorney general's office said.

The company allegedly hired children, retained the employment of children and in some instances participated in efforts to conceal children and when federal and state labor department officials inspected that plant, the affidavit said.

Defendants in the case are scheduled to appear before Iowa District Court Judge John Bauercamper next Wednesday in Allamakee County Magistrate Court.

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