Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office filed a criminal complaint today against the owner and several key company officials at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville.
Miller says the complaint alleges more than 9,000 violations of various provisions of state child labor laws. Miller says the first area involves employing a child under 18 at a meatpacking plant, and exposing a child under the age of 18 to dangerous chemicals, including dry ice and chlorine solutions.
Miller says the those who ran the plant allegedly let young kids run dangerous equipment. Miller says the third set of counts deal with employing children under the age of 16 to operate power equipment including: conveyor belts, meat grinders, circular saws, power washers and power shears. Miller says the complaints also accuse the company of breaking the rules for work hours for kids under 16.
Miller says they alleged the children under the age of 16 worked beyond the mandate seven a-m to seven p-m hours in Iowa law and worked more hours than allowed under law. Each of the violations is a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $65 to $625. Miller says he cannot expand much on some of the information, such as how they know the children working in the plant were underage.
"We can’t really go into the evidence beyond what’s already in the affidavit and the complaint," Miller says. He says they just try to use the documents available to prove the case in court. Miller was also hesitant to characterize the size of this case or how it ranks in terms of labor violations.
Miller says there are a large number of counts, but he doesn’t care to do comparisons as "the number speaks for itself." The plant was the site of what was then the largest immigration raid in history back in May.
Defendants named in the new charges by the Attorney General are: 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.