heeb'n'vegan

"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)

5.28.2006

The Forward: Workers' Rights Abuses at AgriProcessors

AgriProcessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country, is infamous because of an undercover investigation that found atrocious animal welfare violations; the USDA later confirmed that AgriProcessors had engaged in acts of "inhumane slaughter" that violated the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act. The slaughterhouse is also known for its environmental woes: Runoff from the slaughterhouse violates the federal Clean Water Act, alleges a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit. And now, add a new dimension to this story.

Kudos to The Forward for deeply delving into the egregious human rights violations faced by AgriProcessors employees. In a front-page feature, The Forward's Nathaniel Popper shows that 100 years after the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, this kosher slaughterhouse is still a jungle in its own right. According to the article, AgriProcessors employees--many of whom are illegal immigrants who are desperate for employment--receive some of the lowest wages in the industry, are not given adequate training to operate dangerous machinery, do not have easy access to health insurance, and are viewed as second-class citizens compared to the Jewish staff. The paper also includes a transcript of an undercover investigator's failed attempt to receive worker's compensation after contracting a bacteria infection while on the job. In yet another article, The Forward's editorial board writes:
A greater, more pressing mystery involves the Torah's laws of labor relations and business behavior. They appear throughout the text at great length. They are specific, unambiguous, unblinking and as relevant today as ever. Do not humiliate your employee. Pay your workers on time. Give them time off. Compensate them for their injuries. Do not treat them like chattel. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.

The laws couldn't be clearer. Why aren't they upheld with the same rigor as the rules of kosher food or Sabbath?

How is it that a kosher food supplier who violates the Sabbath loses his kosher certification, but a supplier who underpays his workers does not? Why is it that a community leader may be barred from receiving synagogue honors if he openly eats pork — or lives as a homosexual — but not if he cheats his workers or harasses his tenants?

2 Comments:

  • At 5/29/2006 8:14 PM, Blogger KleoPatra said…

    Great post, and your comments as well. Thank you for this... It's a terrible situation, and yet one more reason to be a Vegan Heeb.

     
  • At 6/10/2006 4:48 PM, Anonymous cindy said…

    Unfortunately, people often ignore the fundamentals of religion. Look at the president. He takes away our rights in the name of what is right and believes that he is doing God's mission. The muslim extremists are exploiting the term jihad and using it to gain support for unspeakable acts. It is worse when religion is exploited in the name of greed. Placing the term kosher on food, when it really isn't just to charge more for their products and appeal to a subsection of the market is disgusting indeed.

     

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