Last update - 23:28 29/10/2008
Kosher U.S. meatpacker fined $10m over labor law violations
By Associated Press
Tags: fine, Israel news, kosher

A kosher meatpacking plant that was the site of one of the nation's largest immigration raids was fined nearly $10 million by the state Wednesday, over accusations that it violated state labor laws.

Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil assessed the civil penalties against Agriprocessors in Postville for what he called "repeated violations of Iowa's wage laws from January 2006 to June 2008."
"Once again, Agriprocessors has demonstrated a complete disregard for Iowa law," Neil said in a statement. "This continued course of violations is a black mark on Iowa's business community."

"Iowa Workforce Development, the state's labor agency, spent months before and after the May 12 raid examining internal company documents," said agency spokeswoman Kerry Koonce. "Documents included time sheets, payroll and wage stubs," she continued.

In September, the plant owner and managers were charged with 9,311 misdemeanors alleging it had illegally hired minors and let children under the age of 16 handle dangerous equipment.

The complaint filed by the Iowa attorney general's office said the violations involved 32 illegal-immigrant children younger than 18, including seven who were not yet 16.

The civil penalties totaled $9.99 million, including $339,700 for the illegal deduction of sales tax/miscellaneous costs nearly 3,400 times; $9.6 million for illegally deducting money from 2,001 employees for protective clothing more than 96,000 times; and for failing to pay 42 employees their last paychecks following the raid by immigration

An Agriprocessors spokesman did not immediately respond to a call for comment. The company has 30 days to contest the proposed fines.

The fines are the latest trouble for Agriprocessors since the raid on May 12, in which 389 people from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe were arrested for immigration violations.

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