Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Last Chapter in a Sad Saga.

For the last year my good friend Roger Gardner of Radarsite has been covering the saga of Agriprocessors. With Roger away, I will finish this sad tale of greed, illegal immigration and woe.

It started with an ICE raid back in May. It was discovered that with over 400 employees, many were illegal immigrants who had obtained their documents with the help of the plant owner Sholom Rubashkin. Then there was the allegations (proved to be true) of hiring minors, giving them low wages and excessive hours. The fine by the State of Iowa on Agriprocessors was $10 million, the largest fine in the history of the state.

The final blow to Agriprocessors has come. They have filed for bankruptcy last week.
NEW YORK – A recent criminal affair threatens to cause a great shortage in kosher meat in the United States, as Agriprocessors, the country's number one kosher meat provider filed for bankruptcy last week and is expected to shut down.

The Iowa-based slaughterhouse, which have been run by a family of Lubavitch hassidism for many years, was raided last month by immigration police, who allege the owners 80-year-old Aaron Rubashkin, and his son Sholom (49) were personally involved in the large scale forgery of identification cards for hundreds of illegal workers in the factory.

The company provides some 60% of American Jews' kosher meat and in many small communities is the sole meat provider.

An investigation revealed that the Rubashkins employed over 400 illegal immigrants from Guatemala, and a production line manager at the factory told detectives that he received cash from Rubashkin that he distributed among a few dozen workers to purchase their fake IDs.

It was also revealed that the Rubashkins illegally employed minors in abusive conditions including excessive hours and poor wages. The under-age workers were allegedly exposed to dangerous chemicals and were required to operate dangerous machinery without the proper protection.

According to testimonies, some of the minors were even beaten by shift managers if they failed to meet the required production quota.

American media estimate that the allegations that have been uncovered so far are just the tip of the iceberg, and many Jewish organizations in the US called for a boycott of the company's kosher certificate in light of its owners' non-kosher behavior.

"Kashrut is also a matter of ethics and morals," one rabbi who supports the boycott said.

If Sholom Rubashkin is convicted of the line of offenses he has been charged with, he is expected to spend up to 22 years in prison.

Full Story
Many Jewish families are scrambling to find new sources of meat for their table. And hopefully another group will step up to the plate and open a new kosher meat packing plant. If done within the laws of the United States and the Law of Kashrut, it will be a success.

Meanwhile, it was greed that destroyed Agriprocesssors and nothing else.

Cross posted at Monkey in the Middle

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