Letters Ask for Government Inquiry into Employer Abuse Allegations
Recent letters from leading labor and consumer advocacy groups call for a government inquiry into Agriprocessors, the Iowa meatpacking plant that was the site of the largest worksite immigration raid in U.S. history in mid-May. The letters, from Change to Win and the Child Labor Coalition, highlight allegations of worker abuse at the plant, question the status of government investigations into these illegal practices, and note that the immigration raid is likely to result in the deportation of key witnesses and sources of information.
Change to Win, a six million member partnership of seven leading labor unions, and the Child Labor Coalition, a coalition of thirty organizations headed by the National Consumers League, each called for the government to take steps to investigate and prosecute Agriprocessors’ labor violations to the fullest extent of the law. They join the call of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and U.S. Representatives Bruce Braley (D-IA), Phil Hare (D-IL), George Miller (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who have also asked the Bush Administration to fully investigate the allegations against Agriprocessors. Currently, no employers or managers of the company have been arrested, while hundreds of plant employees have been prosecuted and placed into deportation proceedings.
Change to Win’s May 29th letter to a series of elected officials and agency chiefs outlined a litany of labor law violations allegedly committed by the company, including “child labor, wages far below the minimum wage, lack of bathroom access during 10-hour shifts, sexual and physical abuse of employees and failure to compensate employees for overtime,” and called for “the responsible state and federal agencies to investigate and prosecute this renegade employer to the fullest extent of the law.”
In its June 4th letter, the Child Labor Coalition called on U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to investigate allegations of underage hiring at Agriprocessors. The letter stated that “ICE arrests and the movement of key witnesses may jeopardize the Department of Labor’s ability to fully and effectively investigate whether child labor was occurring at the plant. In our view, the question of whether undocumented workers are employed in a factory should never come in the way of the very serious possibility that plant owners may be violating child labor laws and risking the health of young workers.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The fact that a consistent bad actor like Agriprocessors can emerge unscathed from the recent raid is a searing indictment of our national priorities. The company’s abuse of its workers and our nation’s laws make it imperative that we follow up with comprehensive investigations and real reform.”
The Change to Win letter is available at:
The Child Labor Coalition letter is available at: