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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Situation at Agriprocessors ‘off limits to outside scrutiny’ says Rabbi

By Lynda Waddington | 08.22.08 | 2:02 pm

Hispanics who worked at the Agriprocessors plant prior to the May 12 immigration raid, told stories of sexual and financial coercion. Some workers who came to and left Postville in the weeks following the raid have spoken of broken promises. The stories told by minors who claim to be former employees at the kosher meatpacker have, at least in part, fueled an ongoing investigation into 57 cases of child labor law violations.

According to Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, however, information surrounding the recent compensation spat between management and Jewish employees at the plant falls so squarely within the sacred that it cannot be discussed.

“As the supervising rabbi for all glatt kosher meat and strictly kosher poultry at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, I am responsible for the well-being of the slaughterers (shochtim) and supervising (mashgichim) rabbis,” said Weissmandl in an e-mail to Iowa Independent on Thursday. “To protect the integrity of the kashruth, their relationship is strictly with us. Under no circumstances can we permit that this relationship be compromised and thus is off limits to outside scrutiny, as is prescribed by Jewish law.”

Delivered by Menachem Lubinsky, president of the marketing firm Lubicom and a spokesman for Agriprocessors, the statements from Weissmandl came in response to an inquiry submitted by Iowa Independent in relation to Jewish workers walking off the job Wednesday.

When the Agriprocessors plant was at full production, it was believed as many as 70 rabbis were needed to oversee and perform the sacramental slaughter of livestock according to halakha, or Jewish law. Plant officials freely admit that the plant has not been at such high production levels since a federal immigration raid in May resulted in the detention of nearly 400 of the company’s estimated 900 workers.

“It is no secret that Agriprocessors was forced to cut back production of meat and poultry after more than a third of its labor force was seized in a May 12th raid by [Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” Lubinsky said. “While the company has made big strides in hiring new workers and restoring production, it is still significantly behind May 12th levels.”

It has been this inability to secure a stable workforce that led to what Lubinsky described as a compensation “lag” and the ultimate protest by the Jewish workers this week.

“For the kosher slaughterers … and rabbis, this has meant not being able to work multiple shifts and a 6-day work week, cutting into their ability to make more money, while also making do with the company’s policy of a lag-time in their paychecks,” he explained.

The brief standoff between workers and management came to a close when a tentative compensation agreement was reached, according to sources at Agriprocessors. Those same sources have stated that the agreement was for the disgruntled workers to receive some compensation at the end of the work day. It was an agreement, Iowa Independent has been told, that was not kept. The vast majority of the employees, however, were at work on the production line today and are anticipated to return tomorrow. The plant will close on Saturday for observance of Shabbat and, according to three independent sources in Postville, Weissmandl be in eastern Iowa on Sunday to speak personally with the workers.

Iowa Independent requested more information from Lubinsky regarding the upcoming Postville visit and a clarification of the role played Weissmandl during the Wednesday negotiations. In addition, we asked for confirmation on information provided to us by residents of Postville and workers at Agriprocessors regarding the status of Rabbis that have taken employment at the plant in the wake of the raid as well as those who have left employment. The final two requests were for a clarification of the role Sholom Rubashkin, former president at the Postville operation and son of Agriprocessors founder Aaron Rubashkin, and a request for a face-to-face interview with various members of plant management. All were ignored.

“The rabbis and shochtim under our jurisdiction are hand-picked pious Orthodox Jews who are fully committed to the observance of the highest level of kashruth at the plant,” Weissmandl said in closing.

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Comments

  • morristownmaven

    Evidently, Rabbi Wiessmandl hasn't head of the Jewish law “dina malchuta dina” (the law of the land is the law). In this country when it comes to worker health and safety, everyone including the ritual slaughters and Rabbis fall under the protection of OSHA and thus are “subject to scrutiny.” When workers are reported to have walked off the job, seems to me OSHA has an obligation to investigate.

  • Pingback: Situation at Agriprocessors ‘off limits to outside scrutiny’ says Rabbi

  • ehuday

    We owe it to the kosher consumer

    We in the field of Kashrus have accepted a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the kosher consumer. Therefore, we owe our fidelity to the kosher consumer to uphold and maintain that fiduciary responsibility.

    Executives who face troubling decisions are often confused about how to arrive at the right, moral and ethical course of action. This is not surprising since by definition a “moral dilemma” is one where there is no clear right and wrong, only positives and negatives.

    We should be guided in our moral reasoning by the insight that comes from respecting the moral rights of the kosher consumer; justice to colleagues and peers; consequences and outcomes; explaining and defending to others as well as to ourselves the decisions we make.

    Have I searched for all alternatives? Are there other ways I could look at the situation? Have I listened and considered all points of view of my colleagues and peers, while still maintaining high ethical standards?

    Even if there is sound rationality for this decision, and even if I could defend it publicly, does my inner sense tell me this is right? Will my colleagues, peers, and the educated kosher consumer agree with my rationality?

    Does this decision agree with my religious beliefs and with my personal principles and sense of responsibility to the kosher consumer? Would I want others in kashrus to make the same decision and to take the same action if faced with the same circumstances?

    What are my true motives for this action? Would this action infringe on the moral rights and dignity of others? Would this action involve deceiving others in any way? Would I feel this action was just (ethical or fair) if I were on the other side of the decision? Am I being unduly influenced by others who may not be as sensitive to these ethical standards?

    How would I feel (or how will I feel) if (or when) this action becomes known to the educated

    Kosher consumer? Would others feel that my action or decision is ethically and morally justifiable to the educated kosher consumer? Can I justify my action as directly beneficial to the kosher consumer and to kashrus in general?

    We can stretch and expand our moral reasoning and ethical judgment, and sharpen our ethical sensitivity and moral awareness by thinking through particular dilemmas in light of the above. If we consider all the questions discussed above with real intent and pure motives, then we can be confident that we will come with G-D’s help, to sound and ethical decisions.

    When we achieve clarity as to the issues of the dilemma, we are better prepared to make a decision that is both right and defensible. We must remember that our goal is to achieve an ethical course of action in all areas of kashrus, not to find a way to construct a rational argument in support of an unethical decision.

    Our daily decisions do (at times indirectly) impact the kosher consumer. We live in a world where other concerns e.g. profits etc., often come into conflict with the concern for ethics and principles; and where society is demanding a higher standard of kashrus, and a higher ethic of social responsibility to the kosher consumer.

    We must be willing and able to give the kosher consumer in fact, that which the kosher consumer believes he / she is getting in theory.

    We owe it to ourselves…..we are all “kosher-consumers”.

    Yudel Shain
    Kosher Consumers Union, Inc
    http://www.kosherconsumer.org

    PS Without the kosher consumer, the kosher certifier is out of business.

  • ehuday

    We owe it to the kosher consumer

    We in the field of Kashrus have accepted a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the kosher consumer. Therefore, we owe our fidelity to the kosher consumer to uphold and maintain that fiduciary responsibility.

    Executives who face troubling decisions are often confused about how to arrive at the right, moral and ethical course of action. This is not surprising since by definition a “moral dilemma” is one where there is no clear right and wrong, only positives and negatives.

    We should be guided in our moral reasoning by the insight that comes from respecting the moral rights of the kosher consumer; justice to colleagues and peers; consequences and outcomes; explaining and defending to others as well as to ourselves the decisions we make.

    Have I searched for all alternatives? Are there other ways I could look at the situation? Have I listened and considered all points of view of my colleagues and peers, while still maintaining high ethical standards?

    Even if there is sound rationality for this decision, and even if I could defend it publicly, does my inner sense tell me this is right? Will my colleagues, peers, and the educated kosher consumer agree with my rationality?

    Does this decision agree with my religious beliefs and with my personal principles and sense of responsibility to the kosher consumer? Would I want others in kashrus to make the same decision and to take the same action if faced with the same circumstances?

    What are my true motives for this action? Would this action infringe on the moral rights and dignity of others? Would this action involve deceiving others in any way? Would I feel this action was just (ethical or fair) if I were on the other side of the decision? Am I being unduly influenced by others who may not be as sensitive to these ethical standards?

    How would I feel (or how will I feel) if (or when) this action becomes known to the educated

    Kosher consumer? Would others feel that my action or decision is ethically and morally justifiable to the educated kosher consumer? Can I justify my action as directly beneficial to the kosher consumer and to kashrus in general?

    We can stretch and expand our moral reasoning and ethical judgment, and sharpen our ethical sensitivity and moral awareness by thinking through particular dilemmas in light of the above. If we consider all the questions discussed above with real intent and pure motives, then we can be confident that we will come with G-D’s help, to sound and ethical decisions.

    When we achieve clarity as to the issues of the dilemma, we are better prepared to make a decision that is both right and defensible. We must remember that our goal is to achieve an ethical course of action in all areas of kashrus, not to find a way to construct a rational argument in support of an unethical decision.

    Our daily decisions do (at times indirectly) impact the kosher consumer. We live in a world where other concerns e.g. profits etc., often come into conflict with the concern for ethics and principles; and where society is demanding a higher standard of kashrus, and a higher ethic of social responsibility to the kosher consumer.

    We must be willing and able to give the kosher consumer in fact, that which the kosher consumer believes he / she is getting in theory.

    We owe it to ourselves…..we are all “kosher-consumers”.

    Yudel Shain
    Kosher Consumers Union, Inc
    http://www.kosherconsumer.org

    PS Without the kosher consumer, the kosher certifier is out of business.

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