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Agriprocessors charged with over 9,000 child labor law violations
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has filed a criminal complaint and affidavit today in Allamakee County District Court listing more than 9,000 alleged violations of Iowa child labor laws at Agriprocessors in Postville.
Those named in the court documents are:
- Abraham Aaron Rubashkin — principal owner and president of Agriprocessors, Inc.
- Sholom M. Rubashkin — Son of Aaron, manager of the slaughtering and meat packing plant at Postville and a company officer.
- Elizabeth Billmeyer — human resources manager of Agriprocessors, Inc. and a resident of Postville.
- Laura Althouse — management employee in the human resources department at Agriprocessors in Postville.
- Karina Freund — management employee in the human resources department at Agriprocessors in Postville.
A total of 9,311 child labor violations, involving 32 minors under the age of 18, are included in the court documents. Seven of the 32 minors were under the age of 16. The alleged violations range from September 2007 to May 12 of this year — the date of the massive federal immigration raid on the plant. All violations are simple misdemeanors, each punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $65 to $625.
An initial appearance has been scheduled before Iowa District Court Judge John Bauercamper for Sept. 17 in Allamakee County.
From the documents filed with the court:
“During the period of Sept. 9, 2007, through May 12, 2008, the persons as listed as employee-victims in the attached Complaint were employed and permitted to work at Agriprocessorsâ€™ slaughtering and meat packing establishment. All were under eighteen years of age on each of the dates listed. Throughout their employment these children were exposed to dangerous and/or poisonous chemicals, including, but not limited to, dry ice and chlorine solutions. Several of these employee-victims were also under sixteen years of age during the dates for which they are identified as such in the Complaint. Throughout their employment, these children, while under sixteen years of age, were employed in the operation of or tending of power-driven machinery, including, but not limited to, conveyor belts, meat grinders, circular saws, power washers, and power shears.”
The court documents also enumerate more than 1,500 violations relating to hours worked, including employee-victims under 16 who worked more than eight hours on specified days, and more than 40 hours in specified weeks. According to the affadavit, records indicate that there were instances of children under the age of 16 working before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. and, while school was in session, working more than four hours in a day and more than 28 hours in a week.
The Iowa Attorney General found that “all of the named individual defendants possessed shared knowledge that Agriprocessors employed undocumented aliens” and “that many of those workers were minors.”
Chaim Abrahams, plant manager at Agriprocessors, vehemently refutes the charges.
The breakdown of the charges are as follows:
- 3,857 violations of Iowa Code, section 92.8(9) — (â€œNo person under 18 years of age shall be employed or permitted to work with or without compensation at any of the following occupations or business establishments: … Occupations in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments and rendering plants.â€
- 3,857 violations of Iowa Code, section 92.8(19) — “No person under 18 years of age shall be employed or permitted to work with or without compensation at any of the following occupations or business establishments: … Occupations involving exposure to lead fumes or its compounds, or to dangerous or poisonous dyes or chemicals.”
- 790 violations of Iowa Code, section 92.6(6) — “Persons 14 and 15 years of age may not be employed in: … Operation or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery, other than office machines and machines in retail, food service, and gasoline service establishments which are specified in section 92.”
- 677 violations of Iowa Code, section 92.7 — “A person under 16 years of age shall not be employed with or without compensation, except as provided in sections 92.2 and 92.3, before the hour of 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except during the period from June 1 through Labor Day when the hours may be extended to nine p.m.Â If such person is employed for a period of five hours or more each day, an intermission of not less than 30 minutes shall be given.Â Such a person shall not be employed for more than eight hours in one day, exclusive of intermission, and shall not be employed for more than 40 hours in one week.Â The hours of work of persons under 16 years of age employed outside school hours shall not exceed four in one day or 28 in one week while school is in session.”