May 26, 2006
“Alongside the scandals, the firm has gained a steadily growing following of enthusiastic consumers, drawn by its ability to deliver reliable kosher products nationwide at an attractive price. In recent years its combination of availability, quality and price has made it one of the fastest growing brands in the kosher marketplace.
But, as Popper discovered in Postville, there is another price that is being paid — by AgriProcessors’ employees. The company’s workers tell a grim tale of long hours, low pay, humiliating treatment by capricious supervisors, dangerous conditions and insufficient safety measures. The workers, many of them undocumented immigrants, spoke to the Forward on condition of anonymity, fearing dismissal or deportation if they were identified. But their stories were backed up with on-the-record testimony and documentation from a host of clergy and community leaders, Iowa academics and union officials. The story they tell is consistent, and shocking.
How AgriProcessors and its owners treat their employees is a matter for federal and Iowa state authorities to judge. We hope someone takes a good, hard look at conditions in Postville. Given the current state of American labor law, it’s not likely that much will change dramatically for the better. Still, stricter enforcement of existing labor laws will improve some lives.”