Agriprocessors caught for 57 child labor law violations

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Labor officials said Tuesday they had uncovered dozens of child labor violations at the nation's biggest supplier of kosher meat.

The Iowa Labor Commissioner's Office said an investigation, which spanned several months, uncovered 57 cases of child labor law violations at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, where nearly 400 workers were arrested this spring in the largest immigration enforcement operation in U.S. history.

The types of violations included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours for youth to work, failure to obtain work permits, exposure to hazardous chemicals and working with prohibited tools. Under Iowa law, it is illegal for children under the age of 18 to work in meatpacking plants.

"The investigation brings to light egregious violations of virtually every aspect of Iowa's child labor laws," Dave Neil, Iowa Labor Commissioner, said in a statement. "It is my recommendation that the attorney general's office prosecute these violations to the fullest extent of the law."

They added that they are still investigating possible wage violations at the plant. Juda Engelmayer, an Agriprocessors spokesman, declined immediate comment on the charges.

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