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Statement of the Iowa Attorney General's Office
For immediate release – Tuesday, September 9, 2008.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699.

Child Labor Law Charges Filed Naming Agriprocessors Officials and Plant in Postville

[UPDATE June 7, 2010: At the conclusion of the trial in Waterloo, the jury reached a verdict of not-guilty on all counts. Go to statement of the Attorney Generalís Office.]

[UPDATE Jan. 6, 2010: Judge Nathan Callahan sets trial date for 9 a.m. May 4, 2010, at Black Hawk County District Court in Waterloo. Callahan also heard arguments on Defendantsí motion to dismiss, with a decision expected later.]

[UPDATE Aug. 8, 2009: State files Motions to Dismiss 110 counts vs. Agriprocessors Inc. et al, and against Jeffrey Heasley, which would leave 9,201 counts vs. Agriprocessors Inc. et al, and 844 counts vs. Heasley. The State inadvertently had alleged child labor counts for dates in 2008 that were after a young workerís 18th birthday. Go to motions to dismiss.]

[UPDATE as of July 14, 2009: Judge Nathan Callahan on 7-14-09 denied a motion to dismiss that was filed last spring by defendants Sholom Rubashkin and Aaron Rubashkin. Judge Callahan also granted the defendantsí motion to continue the trial to a later date (after a federal trial.) Judge Callahan scheduled a status hearing for Jan. 6, 2010, at which time a new trial date likely would be set.]

[UPDATE, May 14, 2009:  Go to State’s Resistance to Second Motion to Dismiss.”]

[UPDATE, April 2009:  Trial is set for August 4, 2009, at Black Hawk County District Court in Waterloo, Iowa.]

Sept. 9, 2008: Statement of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office filed a criminal Complaint and Affidavit Tuesday in Allamakee County District Court in Waukon, alleging more than 9,000 violations of Iowa Child Labor law at the Agriprocessors, Inc., plant in Postville. [Go to Complaint and Affidavit] wwww

Defendants named in the Complaint and Affidavit are Agriprocessors, Inc.; Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, principal owner and president of Agriprocessors; Sholom Rubashkin, manager of the slaughtering and meat packing plant at Postville and an officer; Elizabeth Billmeyer, human resources manager of Agriprocessors, Inc.; and Laura Althouse and Karina Freund, management employees in the human resources division of Agriprocessors, Inc. [Update:  A criminal Complaint and Affidavit were filed January 16, 2009, naming Jeffrey Heasley and alleging 954 child labor violations by Heasley, a beef processing supervisor at Agriprocessors, Inc.  Go to Heasley Complaint and Affidavit.]

The Complaint filed Sept. 9, 2008, alleges a total of 9,311 child labor violations, involving 32 youths under the age of 18. (Seven of the 32 also were under age 16.) The alleged violations date back to Sept. 9, 2007, for some of the children, and to as recently as May 12, 2008, when Federal officials raided the Postville plant. The violations all are simple misdemeanors, each punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $65 to $625.

Iowa District Court Judge John Bauercamper scheduled an initial appearance for all defendants in Allamakee County Magistrate Court for 2 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, 2008.

The Complaint alleges violations of five sections of the Iowa Child Labor law, Iowa Code Ch. 92: employing a child under age 18 in a meat packing plant; employing a child under age 18 in an occupation that exposes the child to dangerous or poisonous chemicals; employing a child under age 16 who operated power machinery; employing a child under age 16 who worked during prohibited hours or more hours in a day than permitted by law; and employing a child under 16 who worked more hours in a week than permitted by law. (See breakdown of alleged violations, below.)

The Affidavit said: “During the period of September 9, 2007, through May 12, 2008, the persons 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 Complaint and Affidavit also enumerates more than 1500 violations relating to hours worked, including employee-victims under age 16 who worked more than eight hours on specified days, and more than forty hours in specified weeks. The Complaint also alleges records show instances of children under age sixteen 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 records of Agriprocessors, Inc., also confirm, as alleged by each of the employee-victims, that each of these employee-victims worked more hours of overtime each week than that for which they were compensated,” the Complaint said.

According to the Affidavit: “All of the named individual 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 Affidavit said: “Each defendant, either as principal or as aider and abettor, hired children, retained the employment of children observed working throughout the plant, and/or participated in efforts to conceal children when federal and state labor department officials inspected that plant.”

Criminal charges are only allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is serving in the role of prosecutor at the request of the Allamakee County Attorney. The matter was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Labor Services Division of the Iowa Dept. of Workforce Development.

Alleged violations:

The Child Labor statute, Iowa Code Ch. 92, specifies that “every day during which any violation of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense,” and that “the employment of any person in violation of this chapter shall. . . constitute a separate and distinct offense.” Violations are simple misdemeanors. (Iowa Code sec. 92.20.)

The Complaint alleged 9,311 counts of child labor violations, as follows:

Iowa Code sec. 92.8 (9) -- prohibited occupations under age 18, meat packing plant: 3,857 violations. (“No person under eighteen years of age shall be employed or permitted to work with or without compensation at any of the following occupations or business establishments: . . . (9.) Occupations in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments and rendering plants.”)

Iowa Code sec. 92.8 (19) -- prohibited occupations under age 18, exposure to dangerous chemicals: 3,857 violations. (“No person under eighteen years of age shall be employed or permitted to work with or without compensation at any of the following occupations or business establishments: . . . (19.) Occupations involving exposure to lead fumes or its compounds, or to dangerous or poisonous dyes or chemicals.”)

Iowa Code sec. 92.7 -- hours permitted for persons under age 16: 677 violations of hours-per-day limits or working during prohibited hours, and 130 violations of hours-per-week limits. (“A person under sixteen 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 seven a.m. or after seven 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 thirty 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 forty hours in one week. The hours of work of persons under sixteen years of age employed outside school hours shall not exceed four in one day or twenty-eight in one week while school is in session.”)

Iowa Code sec. 92.6 (6) -- occupations not permitted for persons under age 16, operating power machinery: 790 violations. (“Persons fourteen and fifteen years of age may not be employed in: . . .(6.) 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.)

END of statement