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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedUpinFarmersBranch's Avatar
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    May 2008

    IA-Agriprocessor Plant tries to rebuild its image

    Plant tries to rebuild its image
    By TONY LEYS • • August 3, 2008

    Postville, Ia. — The embattled Agriprocessors meatpacking plant is making steady progress in rebuilding its business, and it will survive under its current ownership, an executive said here last week.

    Chaim Abrahams, the plant's purchasing manager, said the company has seen no decline in demand for its products, which include kosher and nonkosher meat. The main stumbling block to rebuilding its business has been the challenge of hiring replacements for the hundreds of illegal immigrant workers who either were arrested or fled after a federal raid of the plant May 12.

    Abrahams acknowledged that some critics have called for customers to consider buying from other meat suppliers because of criticism about the way Agriprocessors treats its employees and the animals it butchers. But he said the company is an ethical operation that still has more demand for its products than it can fulfill.

    The facility is the country's biggest supplier of kosher meat, which is eaten by many observant Jews. Last week, the company paid to have several Orthodox rabbis travel from New York and other cities to Postville to look over the operation. The trip was designed to convince consumers that the company's products are acceptable.

    Abrahams vowed that the Rubashkin family, which founded the company in 1987, would keep the plant open. "Everyone over here is confident and determined and ambitious to do whatever it takes," he said.

    Abrahams spoke in a cluttered conference room on the grounds of the plant. His words were accompanied by the sounds of semitrailer trucks pulling in and out of the facility with livestock or processed meat.

    Rubashkin family members have declined repeated requests for interviews. Abrahams said that's because the lawyers have advised them not to speak publicly during the federal investigation of their operation. But Abrahams agreed to sit for an interview on their behalf. He said he could not comment on issues that are under investigation, but he would talk generally about the business and its owners.

    The company announced in May that it planned to hire a new chief executive officer to take over from Sholom Rubashkin, the son of company founder Aaron Rubashkin. Sholom Rubashkin, 48, has run the plant for years, and he continues to work there. Several times during last week's interview, Rubashkin came into the room and quietly handed notes to Abrahams.

    Rubashkin, who was dressed in a spattered white coat and hard hat, remains a company vice president, but he has less authority than in the past, Abrahams said. Aaron Rubashkin and Sholom's brother Heshy have stepped up their roles in managing the business, he said. At one point in the interview, Abrahams took an extended call from Aaron Rubashkin, who lives in New York City. Abrahams said he receives several such calls each day from Agriprocessors' founder.

    None of the Rubashkins has been charged in the case, but two line supervisors have been arrested on charges of helping illegal immigrants gain false papers. Court documents indicate a federal grand jury continues to probe the situation.

    The company said in May that it would hire a new chief executive officer. Abrahams said candidates have been interviewed, but he would not predict when the new leader would be named. "It's a major step. It's a major undertaking," he said. "It's not just like hiring a line worker."

    He said the company is more than halfway to rebuilding its work force to the more than 800 employees it had before the raid. Outside staffing agencies are doing most of the hiring, he said, and they are using a national, computerized system to ensure that all new employees are in the country legally.

    Abrahams portrayed the Rubashkins as a generous family that shuns publicity. He said they have often given free food to needy people and have quietly helped pay medical bills or rent for workers in crisis, both in Iowa and New York. "There are hundreds of stories like this under the chairs, but no one is picking them up," he said, gesturing around the room.

    Abrahams said family members feel legally hamstrung in defending themselves against allegations that they exploit poor immigrants. "We care for these people," he said.

    He also released a prepared statement on the issue. The statement noted that Aaron Rubashkin fled Soviet Russia after suffering oppression because of his Jewish faith. He came to the United States in the 1950s and started a butcher shop in New York, then eventually opened the Iowa plant.

    "In America, we found freedom and opportunity. We understand the pain and suffering which immigrants are going through," Rubashkin said in the statement. "As an immigrant family, we want to provide our workers an opportunity to share in the American dream."

    Critics have questioned such claims, and they have demanded that the company improve its practices.

    Last weekend, organizers of a large, pro-immigrant rally met with Abrahams and other Agriprocessors leaders. The rally organizers, who included leaders of Jewish social-justice groups, asked Agriprocessors to donate $100,000 to a local fund that has been helping feed and house the families of former workers who were arrested and are now jailed or wearing electronic bracelets that prevent them from working or leaving town. The rally organizers said they received no firm commitment on their request.

    Abrahams said Agriprocessors has not decided whether to make such a donation, but he said the company has given food and housing assistance to such families.

    Abrahams said many people would be hurt if Agriprocessors were forced out of business. Besides direct employees, he said, the plant supports area retail stores and suppliers. It is also a major source of money for farmers raising cattle, chickens, sheep and turkeys, he said.

    Although relatively few Iowans buy kosher meat, he said, the plant supplies large amounts of nonkosher meat, mostly under the brand name Iowa's Best.

    "We are an Iowa company," he said. "We are part of this economy on many different levels." ... /1001/NEWS
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  2. #2
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Plant tries to rebuild its image
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2006
    Oregon (pronounced "ore-ee-gun")
    Quote Originally Posted by zeezil
    Plant tries to rebuild its image
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Some one please tell me why these owners have not been jailed ?
    We can't deport them all ? Just think of the fun we could have trying!

  5. #5
    Senior Member tencz57's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Justonehero
    Some one please tell me why these owners have not been jailed ?
    Just what i was thinking . This is America , in that respect i'ld say "They paid off somebody." And i'm not joking
    Nam vet 1967/1970 Skull & Bones can KMA .Bless our Brothers that gave their all ..It also gives me the right to Vote for Chuck Baldwin 2008 POTUS . NOW or never*

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