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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.

Agriprocessors cited for 31 safety violations

By Lynda Waddington | 08.22.08 | 6:57 pm

Management at Agriprocessors has 15 days to formally respond to an accusation issued today by the Iowa Division of Labor Services that documents 31 new and repeat safety violations.

The state agency completed a follow-up safety inspection on July 8, according to a press release issued today. Based on that inspection, 31 citations were issued, including 21 that are considered serious. Six of the violations stemmed from ongoing safety concerns, previously cited by state inspectors, that management has not addressed to state specifications.

The kosher meatpacking plant — the largest in the nation — was cited most recently for health and safety violations in March. At that time the plant was accused by Iowa labor officials of 39 violations. Company management was able to cooperate with the state while making changes and modifications at the plant. As a result, fines related to those violations were reduced in May to roughly $43,000.

Some of the violations management is facing now, however, are the same ones they were cited for in March, according to Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Division of Labor.

“One of those is an uncovered hole in the [kill] floor that employees could accidentally walk into,” she said in a telephone interview. “Also, exit signage not being properly posted. There were also some relating to electrical fixtures that were supposed to be fixed, but were not fixed.”

Although the state agency cannot make the detailed list of new violations public before the company has opportunity to respond, Koonce said examples of some of the new violations would be failure to provide railings on raised worker platforms, improper or unsafe maintenance of fixed stairwells, improper storage of gas cyclinders, use of respirators in a manner contradictory with production standards, incorrectly placed temporary wiring, and missing or less than adequate safety guards on moving equipment.

Agriprocessors, according to Koonce, has several response options that can be done during the 15-day window.

“They can say that they disagree and that they want to contest it in court,” she said. “They can ask for what’s called an informal conference — meaning that they can come in and talk about the violations and talk about things they might be able to do to fix them. Of course, they can also just pay up, but that isn’t an option that’s typically chosen.”

On the unlikely event that the company chooses to ignore the state’s list of violations, the penalty would be a $101,000 fine.

“When you are discussing repeat violations, the fine is more substantial,” Koonce said. “The overall goal is to try and get a workplace to be safe. So, if you can go into negotiations and get the company to take some of that fine money and put it into upgrades at the facility so it is safe, you want to do that. Obviously, in the case, we have some issues that are repeats. But we will give them their chance and listen to what they say.”

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