Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Kosher meat

Last Saturday, Mark Elf over at Jews sans Frontières reported an allegation in Britain’s Jewish Chronicle that the new Mattancherry kosher Indian restaurant in Golders Green, North-West London ‘was told by kashrut authority Kedassia to stop supporting Israel by displaying a poster for a Yom Yerushalayim concert - or it would lose its licence’.

Over on the other side of the pond, in today’s Forward Nathaniel Popper reports something that’s really not kosher. AgriProcessors, a chain of kosher slaughterhouses owned by an ultra-Orthodox family based in Brooklyn’s Chabad-Lubavitch community, employs some of those undocumented workers that Senator Kennedy wants to see the sunshine. Last Monday, up to 300 workers walked off the job

to protest a May 4 letter sent by the company’s management to employees…A copy of the letter acquired by the Forward informed workers that in order to keep their jobs at the plant they would need to reconcile their Social Security numbers with federal records. Workers say it is their understanding that after the records are reconciled, they will have to again work their way up the plant’s pay scale, which starts at $6.25 an hour.

Popper doesn’t mention how generous their leave entitlements are. Maybe they get Yom Kippur off without pay.

Among the original complaints reported by the Forward were those about the lack of pay for work performed at the beginning and end of the day. A Supreme Court decision in 2005, known as IBP v. Alvarez, affirmed past decisions that found companies to be responsible for paying workers to put on and take off protective gear — known in the business as “donning and doffing.”

The lead counsel on the lawsuit in Iowa, Brian McCafferty, said that workers at AgriProcessors are not being paid for anything other than the time that the production lines are moving. At lunch, the workers have a 30-minute unpaid break, but McCafferty said that, in practice, they get little of the break because they have to clean up before eating and then prepare again before working.

“At the end of the day, you’re covered in blood and guts and you have to wash all of that off, and you have to wash all the equipment” he said. “According to our interviews, they’re not getting paid for any of that.”

McCafferty, who has led past successful lawsuits on the donning and doffing issue, said he believes that AgriProcessors may have to pay upward of $1 million in back pay.

Last year, the company did not recognize a union vote at its Brooklyn facilities, arguing that the vote was invalid because management had discovered that many of the workers who participated were illegal immigrants.

A National Labor Relations Board judge decided against the company and ordered it to recognize the vote.

The Rubashkin family are the ultra-Orthodox ones, so I guess they’d know all about Jewish ethics. Who am I to criticise?

No comments:

Post a Comment