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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

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

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 charged with over 9,000 child labor law violations

By Lynda Waddington | 09.09.08 | 11:59 am

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 Agriprocessors’ 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) — (“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 in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments and rendering plants.”
  • 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.  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.  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.  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.”

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  • primus

    Throw them all in Jail for the Maximum term,Those people are bigger criminals than the Illegals who were busted and harrassed. Then Close the place down.

  • lccat

    I am “surprised” the ILLEGAL EMPLOYERS have not been charged with hiring their ILLEGALS.

    Just follow the money my friend. The “political contributors” will get their “cheap labor” and not have to furnish any “benefits” because all the “benefits” for the ILLEGALS will be “socialized” from the taxpayers enforced and implemented by “our Elitist Politicians” and their “men”(see Johnny Satan) while the “profits” will be privatized by the Elitist Contributors and their Special Interest Groups!!

    Enforcing our Immigration Laws and Securing National Borders are not partisan, divisive, or polarizing issues! In current polls vast majority of United States Citizens want our Immigration Laws Enforced and our National Borders Secured. Politicians without their own or their Elitist Political “Contributor’s” self serving agenda support their citizens and not their Elitist “Contributors”.

  • lccat

    Heavy Fines and Felony Jail Time for ILLEGAL EMPLOYERS!!! Remember the ILLEGAL EMPLOYER in Houston and the murder of the Police Officer by his ILLEGAL EMPLOYEE becuase he did not want to be DEPORTED AGAIN!!!!!

  • theblogger

    Its easy to say arrest them all, bring illegal employment under, the fact of the matter is that most American workers wouldn’t do that kind of work. I had the liberty to speak to some of the employees who were not arrested, as they are legal, they told me that “we will never do that kind of work” since the raid the company couldn’t find anyone that would.

    we have to be aware that there is a reason why the majority of meat processing plants went off shore, and must of the meat we use on a daily basis is imported from Canada, Mexico and even as far as China.

    It seems that our culture is such that people are particular on occupations, our government’s attitude is “harden the life on corporations” via new regulations and employee taxes every so often. Such continuations of events will eventually get the manufacturing industry out of the US totally. How that will help the economy (with the weakening dollar that kills importers) is puzzling to me.

    I won’t say that this company should be treated out of the law, but before anyone gets angry lets look on facts.

  • net1

    Everyone talks about the politicians. Mark Zieman, Senator from Postville says talk to Iowa Workforce Development about how to help Agriprocessors stay in compliance and then leave Agriprocessors alone. Nice talk from someone who the Rubashkin family has helped in his campaign. As a former office employee of Agriprocessors it is sad to see what has happened to Laura Althouse. The poor soul had Elizabeth Billmeyer for a supervisor and let me tell you, Ms. Billmeyer is about as evil as they come.

  • daddysteve

    @theblogger – nice point… Of course ,if the economy gets bad enough there WILL be citizens willing to do this work. Otherwise it's higher prices and wages.

  • daddysteve

    @theblogger – nice point… Of course ,if the economy gets bad enough there WILL be citizens willing to do this work. Otherwise it's higher prices and wages.

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