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Exploiting immigrants not kosher

4 June 2008


It’s rare enough to see people put their neck out for people who really have nothing in common with them.   Rarer still when they do so at more than a little convenience to themselves.

Uri I’tzedek, an Orthodox Jewish social justice group, is boycotting AgriPro meat products over their treatment of Guatemalan and other Latin American “indocumentados.”  AgroPro supplies “60 percent of the beef and 40 percent of the chicken provided to the kosher marketplace in America,” and is a generous donor to Orthodox causes.

It’s not like people who eat kosher have a lot of alternatives.  But they’re calling for a boycott against the largest supplier of the food they eat.  Uri I’tzedek reminds the company that they expect them to :

uphold the halakhic requirements, both ritual and ethical, of the food we eat. We believe you have failed, and we are deeply troubled.:

  • We are deeply troubled that you have demonstrated a pattern of knowingly exploiting undocumented workers, to paying them less than market wages and treating them poorly.
  • We are deeply troubled that according to many experts, the wages you pay your workers are the lowest of any slaughterhouse in the nation.
  • We are deeply troubled that, despite years of public inquiry and concern over worker conditions at your plant, AgriProcessors was cited for 39 new health and safety violations in March 2008. It pains us to hear that examinations of Agriprocessor’s OSHA logs reveal amputations, broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss that occurred at your plant.
  • We are deeply troubled that animals have been abused against the laws of tzaar baalei chaim, causing needless pain to animals.
  • We are deeply troubled that among the hundreds of workers who were arrested by federal officials on May 12, eighteen were children between ages 13 and 17.
  • We are deeply troubled to read reports of various criminal operations taking place at the Postville plant, the account of a Jewish floor supervisor who severely abused a Guatemalan worker in the most reprehensible conditions, and allegations of sexual assault and verbal abuse.
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