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New York attorney is new CEO at Agriprocessors
After nearly four months of searching, the Postville meatpacking plant that was the site of a massive May immigration raid has named a new chief executive officer.
Bernard S. Feldman, 63 and a New York attorney, has accepted the position at the beleigered Agriprocessors, according to a press release from the Lubicom consulting company. In the prepared statement Aaron Rubashkin, owner of the company is credited with saying that Feldman’s “first task will be to restore production at the plant to the level of pre-May 12, the date of the immigration raid.”
Feldman said that he looks “forward to putting the company back on its feet and guiding it in the appropriate direction.” He emphasized that he was “an attorney who helped many companies regain their former position in an industry,” but cited no specific examples.
â€œThe Company has made significant strides since May 12th in putting together a highly professional team with a great deal of integrity,” said Feldman in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with these people, including Jim Martin, a former U.S. Attorney in Missouri, who serves as the compliance officer for our company. I will also work closely with the professional manpower firms, and OSHA specialists amongst others.â€
Feldman also noted that “Agriprocessors is more than a company.”
“It is an institution and an absolute necessity in the Orthodox Jewish community and in the many other communities who wish to eat kosher foods.”
Feldman, obviously aware of the threat by the Orthodox Union to remove kosher certification at the company unless new management was hired, made a point of saying that he looks forward to close cooperation with the rabbis and agencies that certify the kosher status of Rubashkin products.
“Kashrus was and is a primary focus of the company and is the reason why the company has been such a major success since its founding,” Feldman said. “We will also continue to focus on our exceptional quality and fair pricing, as the hallmarks of our future success.”
Feldman also gave a shout out to those who have been following the stories of alleged worker and animal mistreatment at the plant, saying that his intention is to work “closely with governmental agencies that are concerned with the safety of our products and the treatment of workers and animals.”
Feldman replaces Sholom M. Rubashkin, a son of company founder Aaron Rubashkin. Sholom was ousted from the position shortly after the May 12 immigration raid, although he has been a fixture in and around the plant since that time. It is unclear if Sholom and other family members will continue to play a role in the day-to-day administration of the plant or if this move signals movement to a non-family management team.
The announcement comes in the wake of two Agriprocessors human resources workers being indicted on immigration-related charges and 9,311 charges of possible child labor law violations by the state. The company and five employees — including former CEO Sholom M. Rubashkin and founder Abraham Aaron Rubashkin — were named in the state child labor law charges. All parties have provided written notice to the court of their intent to fight the allegations.
The JTA is reporting that Feldman will not be moving to Postville for day-to-day management of the plant, but will spend “a major part” of his time there. In addition, Rabbi Menachem Genack, the head of supervision at the Orthodox Union, said he was pleased with the decision to hire Feldman, but that the organization will continue to monitor the situation.