The Iowa attorney general’s office filed a massive criminal complaint today (Sept. 9) against Agriprocessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country, alleging 9,311 violations of the state’s child labor law. The charges stem from a raid at the Postville plan on May 12 during which nearly 400 employees, including 12 juveniles, were detained for possible immigration law violations.
The 50-page complaint, which names as defendants the company, the principal owner, the plant manager and three employees in the plant’s human resources division, was filed in Allamakee County. Iowa District Court Judge John Bauercamper scheduled the defendants’ initial appearance for Sept. 17.
The violations were uncovered by the Labor Services Division of the Iowa Department of Workforce Development. The case was referred to Tom Miller, the attorney general, by the Allamakee County attorney.
An Agriprocessors spokesman has said that the company did not know it was employing undocumented workers or juveniles.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, each of the defendants “possessed shared knowledge that Agriprocessors employed undocumented aliens. It was likewise shared knowledge among the defendants that many of those workers were minors. The company’s hiring practices encouraged job applicants to submit identification documents which were forgeries, and known to contain false information as to resident alien status, age and identity.”
The complaint alleges that 32 of the employees were under the age of 18 and seven of those were under the age of 16.
Each day that each separate section of the law is violated constitutes a separate violation. The violations involve four division provisions of the Child Labor statutes that:
* Prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from working in a slaughterhouse; 3,857 violations.
* Prohibit anyone under 18 from being exposed to dangerous chemicals (including dry ice); 3,857 violations.
* Limit the hours that youths under the age of 16 can work during school sessions (not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. and not more than four hours a day during the school week and 28 hours a week); 807 violations.
* Prohibit youths under 16 from operating power machinery; 790 violations.
The complaint covers the period from Sept. 9, 2007 through the day of the raid. The company’s own work records serve as the basis for most of the separate violations. Fines for each violation range from $25 to $625. If convicted of all violations, the minimum fine, at $25 each, would be $232,775; the maximum fine could run into the millions.