Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Pressure on Agriprocessors

Agriprocessors We've posted before on the troubles at the kosher Agriprocessors meatpacking plant.  Word now comes that pressure on the company is now coming from some of the company's customers.  From the AP:

"How can you sit at your table and eat a product packaged by a pregnant woman has been standing on her feet all day?" asked Rabbi Morris Allen of Minnesota. He is developing a certification program that aims to protect workers and the environment in the kosher industry. Interest in Allen's "hekhsher tzedek," or "certificate of righteousness," has ballooned since a May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. . . .

The "hekhsher tzedek" would be awarded to companies that pay fair wages, ensure workplace safety, follow government environmental rules and treat animals humanely, among other criteria. The program, which could begin as soon as next year, would be separate from the traditional certification process that measures compliance with Jewish dietary law. A company that fails to obtain a "hekhsher tzedek" could still get its food certified as kosher.

As the story notes, the certificate is not universally supported by Jewish groups.  However, this is a great example of variety of ways in which an employer can be pressured to provide better working conditions for its workers.

Hat Tip:  Dennis Walsh


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Well, I suppose a woman who is pregnant and can't stand on her feet all day should change her job. What the rabbi implies is ridiculous - should the public not support any company that employs pregnant women who stand on their feet? Is that not discriminatory?

Furthermore, it is stated that the hechsher would be "awarded". I find that difficult to bellieve. I am sure that "provided for a fee" is more accurate.

I think we are approaching a very fine line where we are making assumptions about what the responsibility of the employer is vs. the responsibility of an employee. People are not forced to take jobs that may be unpleasant and they are likewise free to seek alternate employment. A safe environment notwithstanding, you cannot hold an employer responsible for the poor decisions the employee makes.

Posted by: Sharon | Aug 14, 2008 8:51:05 PM

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