April 30, 2013
Slater on Interest Arbitration
Joe Slater (Toledo) just posted on SSRN his article (OSJDR) Interest Arbitration as Alternative Dispute Resolution: The History from 1919 to 2011. Here's the abstract:
This paper comes from a February 2012 Symposium, "The Role of ADR Mechanisms in Public Sector Labor Disputes: What Is at Stake, Where We Can Improve & How We Can Learn from the Private Sector." It discusses the history of an important form of alternative dispute resolution: the use of what is called “interest arbitration” to resolve bargaining impasses in public-sector labor relations. This process is used in many states as an alternative to strikes. While interest arbitration has been a crucial part of public-sector labor law and labor relations for decades, it has come under increased scrutiny recently. Indeed, in the wave of laws passed in 2011 restricting the rights of public-sector unions to bargain collectively, interest arbitration was repeatedly attacked, and in several states it was eliminated or restricted.
This paper gives a historical overview of the development of interest arbitration, discussing how and why it developed as it did. This development was neither inevitable nor “natural” in that many other western democracies generally allow public workers to strike. But only a few states in the U.S. allows any public workers to strike. Thus, the question is: why did U.S. law and policy develop the way it did? This paper traces the relevant history from 1919 through to the new, restrictive laws of 2011. It starts with the Boston Police strike of 1919 — a seminal event in the history of public-sector labor law, that had a profound and lasting impact on how U.S. policymakers felt about dispute resolution in public sector labor law. It then turns to the first public-sector labor law permitting collective bargaining — passed, ironically in view of recent events, in Wisconsin in 1959 — and describes how concerns about dispute resolution were central to debates over that law. The paper continues by explaining how interest arbitration in public-sector labor relations has evolved and how it has worked from the 1960s into the 21st century. Finally, the paper explores the very recent developments in this area in the laws of 2011.
April 20, 2013
A Dau-Schmidt Duo
Ken Dau-Schmidt (Indiana-Bloomington) has just posted on SSRN a couple of new articles:
Promises to Keep: Ensuring the Payment of Americans’ Pension Benefits in the Wake of the Great Recession (forthcoming Washburn L.J.):
In this essay, I examine the problem of designing a pension plan within the context of our larger public policy of encouraging workers to save for retirement. I discuss the various problems and risks inherent in encouraging workers to adequately save for retirement, invest those assets efficiently, and ensure the planned level of retirement consumption for the remainder of their lives. I also discuss the three major types of pension plans in the American retirement system, defined benefit, defined contribution, and hybrid, and assess how well each of these types of plans deals with the problems encountered in designing a pension plan. I then examine the particular problems that have arisen because of our relatively recent transition from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, and the funding problems caused by the Great Recession. I close with a section discussing policy changes that might be made to improve our pension system and help ensure that workers receive not only the pension benefits they were promised, but also adequate benefits to sustain them comfortably during their retirement.
The Employment and Economic Advancement of African Americans in the Twentieth Century (with Ryland Sherman, IU-Bloomington Dep't Telecomm.):
The African American experience in the American economy in the Twentieth Century has been a story of many successes, and more than a few unfulfilled promises. Brought in chains to the poorest region of the United States to do the least desirable work, and purposely denied education in order to preserve their subjugation, African Americans began the Twentieth Century on the lowest rung of the American economic ladder doing predominantly low-skilled, low-wage agricultural labor in the poorest region of our country. However, over the course of the century, African Americans were able to overcome express and implicit discrimination to climb the economic ladder and achieve success in new regions and new occupations and professions. African Americans still suffer many disadvantages that diminish their economic success, particularly males and particularly in education, but certainly in comparison with the previous three centuries, the Twentieth Century marked important advancements in African American economic opportunity and success.
In this essay, we will examine how African Americans achieved the economic progress they made during the Twentieth Century. We do this by examining their progress along four vectors of economic opportunity - geographical distribution, labor force participation, occupational distribution, and educational attainment - and then examine the resulting improvement in relative economic rewards. We will also examine the impact that the Civil Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Act and affirmative action policies have had on this progress. We will see that, from an economic perspective, the story of African American success in the Twentieth Century is one of overcoming discrimination by moving from a situation of relatively constrained economic opportunities, to gain access to, and success in, an ever larger and more rewarding set of opportunities across the country. It is hoped that the recounting of the success of African Americans in achieving greater economic success by using the law and their own initiative to gain access to new geographic, occupational, and educational opportunities will serve as an inspirational and educational lesson for India’s Dalits in their own struggle for equal opportunities.
October 11, 2012
New Labor Film
Thanks to Bill Herbert for alerting us to this New York Times review of Sasha Reuther’s new film on the U.A.W.:
Th[is] 1937 photograph is just one of the searing scenes in “Brothers on the Line,” a new documentary about the Reuther brothers: Walter, the future United Auto Workers president standing next to the bloodied organizer, and Victor and Roy. Together they played a pivotal role in transforming the United Auto Workers into what was for decades the nation’s most powerful labor union.
April 13, 2012
A Split on the NLRB's Notice Rule
On the heels of the recent D.C. District Court decision that mostly upheld the NLRB's new notice posting rule, a district court judge has fully rejected the rule [ Download SC Notice Decision ]. In this most recent case, the judge held that the rule exceeded the NLRB's authority to enact rules "necessary to carry out" the provisions of the NLRA. The judge also emphasized, among other things, that the NLRB only reacts to cases brought to it, which the rule contradicts.
I tend to agree with the earlier decision, which viewed the "necessary" language as giving the NLRB broader authority; it seems to me that most agencies are give wide leeway with similar language. Moreover, the stress on the NLRB's reactive role seems overemphasized. That said, the lack of statutory authority for a notice, in contrast to a lot of other statutes, isn't helpful to the NLRB. I don't think that's fatal, but the judge in the recent decision disagrees.
Here's a pie in the sky solution: what if Congress passed a law requiring the posting of an NLRA notice that emphasized employees' right to unionize, not unionize (including decertify), and to act collectively in the absence of a union. In other words, full disclosure. If we're serious about informing employees of their rights--and others and I have written many times about the importance of doing so--then a more complete notice should be a good thing. I know, a snowball's chance of passing. But I'd love to at least see the bill proposed given all I've heard over the years about the need for employees to learn about their right not to be represented.
Given that we won't be seeing legislation anytime soon, we'll just have to follow these cases as they go up on appeal. I won't actually predict this, but it wouldn't surprise me to see this in the Supreme Court eventually. Stay tuned.
Hat Tip: James Young
November 30, 2011
Boeing Case Settling?
If you thought you saw pigs flying overhead today, it may be because of this story: the NLRB case against Boeing may be settling. According to reports, the union officials and Boeing have reached a tentative settlement that would have a new airplane built in Washington State. This is a different plane than the one being built in SC, but is apparently enough to satisfy the union. If the members ratify, the union will then inform the Board that it no longer has an issue with Boeing. Although General Counsel Solomon could still pursue the case, that's unlikely. Indeed, he was quoted as describing the agreement as a "very significant and hopeful development." He didn't say the case would end--he noted that after ratification, "we will be in discussions with the parties about the next steps in the process"--but I doubt that he is masochistic enough to pursue the case after the parties have settled.
Hat Tip: Dave
October 12, 2011
RIP Frank Kameny: Gay Rights Activist, Fired for Being Gay, the First to Sue
Frank Kameny died yesterday, on National Coming Out Day. I don't know if that's fitting or ironic for an icon in the gay rights movement. Kameny was one of thousands of men and women fired from military and government jobs in the mid-twentieth century, but he did not go quietly. He sued to get his job back. Kameny was a specialized astronomer, employed by the U.S. Army Map Service. While he did not win in court, he nonetheless helped start the Gay Rights Movement.
Kameny joined Jack Nichols, and together, they launched the Washington, D.C. Mattachine Society, one of the first and loudest Gay Rights Groups in the country. Kameny fought to get the federal government to change its policy, and in 1975, the federal government stopped excluding homosexuals from government employment. Kameny also fought the Pentagon on security clearance denials on the basis of homosexuality, a policy that was changed in 1995. And he fought the American Psychiatric Association for listing homosexuality as a mental disorder; they agreed in 1973. For more on Kameny, check out this interview with him from last year in the Washingtonian.
That makes three important figures in equality movements to have passed away in the last week--the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the most influential figures in the Civil Rights movement, and Derrick Bell, one of the most influential critical race theorists. I hope that the next few years see some excellent memorial symposia in their individual and collective honor.
July 13, 2011
Dennis Nolan sends a link to this New York Times review of the HBO documentary (Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST) The Curious Case of Curt Flood. Flood sued Major League Baseball in 1953 in an unsuccessful attempt to nuke the reserve clause.
June 15, 2011
Herbert on Public Sector Labor History
Bill Herbert has just posted on SSRN his new article, "Public Sector Labor Law and History: The Politics of Ancient History?", which will be published in the Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal. The abstract:
This article discuss three books that address various aspects of public sector labor history. It seeks to contextualize the current debate over public sector labor law and relations through the lessons of relevant history. The first book discussed is entitled The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975, by Seymour P. Lachman and Robert Polner. It recounts the leadership of Governor Carey and public sector labor leaders in reaching negotiated solutions through collective bargaining that helped solve New York City's fiscal crisis in 1975. The second book is a long-forgotten 1948 treatise Government as Employer by Sterling D. Spero, published at the dawn of public sector collective bargaining in the United States. Unlike most histories of American labor, Spero's book focuses on the public sector, providing an important antidote to the dominance of the private sector narrative in United States labor historiography. The final book examined is a labor history published last year: There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray. Dray's book presents an episodic labor history of America's private sector from the rise of industrialization to today, which touches upon certain events in public sector labor history.
Looks like an invaluable piece given the current news, including what came out of Wisconsin yesterday.
March 25, 2011
More on the Triangle Fire and Workers Today
As Jeff noted yesterday, today is the 100th anniversary of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. It was the largest industrial accident in NYC history, and I think remains the second largest industrial accident in U.S. history.
With this anniversary come a number of excellent documentaries on the subject. Earlier this month, PBS's American Experience series (from WGBH in Boston) explored the fire, and you can watch that program and access many original materials here. HBO also has a documentary on the fire, and its website provides links to useful resources as well. For more in the way of documents, if you're interested, check out Cornell's ILR School site devoted to the fire, and UMKC has documents from the trial of the factory owners as part of its famous trial series online. The tragedy helped to mobilize people to push harder for protective labor legislation in New York and across the country, efforts that had already been underway, but which gained significantly greater momentum.
This anniversary is particularly interesting juxtaposed against today's current labor climate. We have the examples of the recent legislative efforts to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights in a number of states, but most visibly in Wisconsin. And in my own current state of Missouri, there seems an outright revolution in the works. We have a movement called "Fix the 6," proposed by business interests in the state. The program touches on some tax and broader tort reform issues, but primarily focuses on employment. The legislative agenda seeks to limit awards and make it harder for employees to get to trial in employment discrimination cases (h/t Erin Clark, for links to a summary of the legislation and this anti-legislation video), to roll back whistleblower protections (h/t Roger Goldman for the link to this article), and to repeal automatic increases to the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. In addition to these, there was a bill to make union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements illegal--the so-called right to work legislation. While the right to work bill stalled in the Missouri Senate, the discrimination legislation has passed the House, and the whistleblower legislation has passed the Senate.
I'm struck, as likely many readers of this blog are, by all of this movement, much of it flying in the face of opinion polls, and wonder, why now and what does it mean? All of these bills are labeled as making our state more competitive for industry--as job-creating measures. Has the Great Recession made legislators think that workers (or seeking-work-ers) are so desperate that they will vote against their self interest in one sense--we often do, so maybe that's right--in the hopes that the resulting largesse to company profits will trickle down to them? Is this the kind of race to the bottom that might demonstrate that Brandeis' notion of states-as-laboratories has serious limitations at least when it comes to measuring justice values against scarce economic resources?
Are these multi-layered efforts going on in other states too? I'd love to hear about it or your thoughts in the comments.
March 23, 2011
Arthurs on Purposive Labour Law
As if on cue, Harry Arthurs has dished up a rejoinder of sorts to Alan Hyde's parable I posted on yesterday. Read them together. Harry's article, just posted on SSRN, is Labour Law after Labour. Here's the abstract:
‘What is labour law for?’ is a question with a past. I therefore begin by sketching out its history. It has a present too, whose most striking feature – I argue – may well be the end of ‘labour’. And of course it has a future: what will labour law look like ‘after labour’? I address all three questions largely from a North American perspective, but with reference to experience in the United Kingdom and Europe.
March 22, 2011
Hyde Says Labor Theory is Bunk
Alan Hyde (Rutgers-Newark) has just posted on SSRN his chapter The Idea of the Idea of Labour Law: A Parable, from the forthcoming The Idea of Labour Law, Langille, Davidov, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011. Here's the abstract:
In times and places when labor law functions as an important social institution, participants in the system often hold conflicting and overlapping conceptions of its purpose (e.g. wealth redistribution, democracy, conflict resolution) without apparent dissonance or dysfunction. Paradoxically, as labor law declines in social importance, academics assert increasingly bizarre and untethered concepts of its basic purpose (e.g. Kantian ethics, lowered transaction costs, solving collective action problems). These concepts reflect the need of teachers of labor law to justify their choice of subject and place in the academy as the social importance of their institution declines. Soon, however, labor law, like securities or banking regulation, will be understood as orderly procedures by which specialists accomplish technical ends, without any expectation that the field will inspire politically or morally.
February 24, 2011
Slater on NPR re Public-Sector Unions
Hat tip: Laura Cooper.
September 28, 2010
GWU / NLRB Conference on NLRA at 75
On October 28-29, the National Labor Relations Board and George Washington University Law School will co-sponsor a conference celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act. The conference will feature seven panels, a discussion with the audience, and a keynote luncheon address by Ron Bloom, White House Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy. The panels will be moderated by current and former members of the NLRB and the agency’s Acting General Counsel, as well as the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The conference will open with remarks by Frederick M. Lawrence, Dean of the George Washington School of Law, and NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman.
July 20, 2010
Arthurs on the Globalization of Labor Law
Harry W. Arthurs (York - Osgoode Hall) has just posted on SSRN his article (forthcoming Stanford Law & Policy Review) Extraterritoriality by Other Means: How Labor Law Sneaks Across Borders, Conquers Minds, and Controls Workplaces Abroad. Here's the abstract:
This Article challenges the state-centered description of labor law and impoverished view of extraterritoriality. It suggests that transnational flows of technology and capital, goods and services, and ideas and information have brought in their wake changes in political economy and social relations that have transformed regimes of public and workplace governance in all countries. It proposes that the extraterritoriality doctrine operates, if at all, only in the formal sense of not allowing one state to overtly project its law into the territory of another. But extraterritoriality does little to prevent the rules governing employment relations in one country from taking root elsewhere, from shaping foreign labor market norms, institutions, and practices, and from being reproduced, in their original or mutant forms, in foreign systems of labor law. The result is the extraterritorial projection “by other means” of labor law and policy - a form of extraterritoriality that has the potential to enhance as well as undermine labor standards in global enterprises.
I think Harry is absolutely right. The globalization of commerce and of legal ideas enables countries to "shop" in a global marketplace for the best labor/employment laws and policies. On the other hand, it also facilitates a race to the bottom.
February 02, 2010
Haymarket Affair Digital Collection
The Haymarket Affair Digital Collection, an offering of the Chicago Historical Society, brings to life an important moment in the history of both Chicago and the American labor movement. In May 1886, a crowd gathered in Chicago to protest the killing, by police, of two laborers during a confrontation the previous day.
A large group of police officers intervened to break up the protest and, as they ordered the crowd to disperse, a bomb was thrown toward the officers ultimately killing seven of them. Numerous political radicals were arrested and, ultimately, eight were found guilty of murder with four being executed. Scholars today find the legal proceedings in the matter to be tainted with prejudice against the views of the defendants and the labor movement generally. The site is composed of several sections that provide historical background and many primary source documents. The Chronology provides a concise recounting of events from May 1, 1886 when coordinated strikes were held to demand the eight-hour workday to June 26, 1893 when three of the defendants were finally pardoned. Another section of the site provides an interesting explanation of the evidence used by historians to document the affair. As the site states, “Most of what remains from the Haymarket Affair are documents and artifacts that some citizens decided . . . ought to be preserved as part of the enduring narrative of the event.” The collection itself contains images of trial documents, manuscripts, artifacts, broadsides, photographs, engravings, and other items. Items of particular interest include witness testimony, trial exhibits, Chicago police reports, the national eight-hour law proclamation, and photographs of the defendants. Overall, the site provides users with a significant resource in researching American labor history.
Hat tip: InSITE (Cornell) via Carol Bredemeyer.
January 31, 2010
FIU Symposium on the NLRB at 75
On March 26-27, Florida International will be hosting the symposium Whither the Board? The National Labor Relations Board at 75. Here's a description:
As the National Labor Relations Board approaches its 75th anniversary, its continued vitality has been questioned. It has operated with only two members since December 28, 2007. Two calendar years have passed, and yet there are few signs that the public or the workforce has noticed. Is this a temporary matter, or has one of the original New Deal agencies lost focus? If it has, what should the Board do to reinvigorate its traditional role as the primary regulator of private-sector labor relations? ... [Speakers at the Symposium will] discuss potential changes in national labor relations law, as well as structural and administrative reform that could, without change to the existing statutes, improve the efficacy of the NLRB.
The program, put together by Kerri Stone, looks fantastic. Speaker include Wilma Liebman, Jeff Hirsch, Paul Secunda, Sam Estreicher, Anne Lofaso, Matt Bodie, Catherine Fisk, and Michael Harper.
January 13, 2010
Bernstein & Leonard: "Progressive" Labor/Employment Legislation Was Anything But
David E. Bernstein (GMU Law) (left) and Thomas C. (Tim) Leonard (Princeton Dept Economics) (right) have just posted on SSRN their article Excluding Unfit Workers: Social Control Versus Social Justice in the Age of Economic Reform. Here's the abstract:
Contrary to their modern reputation as egalitarian liberals, many of the original progressive architects of American labor reform were partisans of human inequality. The labor legislation they pioneered was, in important respects, designed to exclude immigrants, women, and African Americans from some or all of the labor market.
The first part of this article discusses the origins and development of a progressive economic ideology that favored, indeed demanded, the exclusion of various so-called “defective” groups from the American labor market. Xenophobia, race prejudice, and sexism certainly were not new to the United States in the Progressive Era. What was new was, first, the idea that protecting deserving workers required the social control of undeserving workers, enough so that labor-legislation advocates defended the exclusion of purportedly unfit minority workers not as an ostensibly necessary evil, but as a positive social benefit. Second, the exclusion of undesirables acquired a new scientific legitimacy: the Progressive Era marked not only the advent of the welfare state but also an extraordinary vogue for race thinking and for eugenics, the social control of human breeding. The new science of eugenics turned “undesirables” into the “hereditarily unfit” and elevated exclusion to a matter of national and racial health. And the new sciences of society, especially economics, showed how unfit workers wrongly lowered the wages and employment of racially superior groups.
The second part of this article discusses the practical impact progressive ideology had on labor reform in the 1930s. The intellectual heirs of progressivism used the prevailing economic crisis to promote previously unachievable government involvement in the labor market to the detriment of those deemed excludable.
The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which regulated the wages paid on construction projects paid for by the federal government, was designed to exclude African Americans and other workers deemed “defective” from the labor market for federal construction projects.
The influence of the progressive economists' belief that low-paid African American workers were “defectives” who should not be permitted to compete on price with white workers continued during the New Deal. Like jobs held by women and children, jobs held by African Americans were often considered “substandard” by New Dealers and were slated for permanent elimination. This mentality was reflected in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which imposed a high uniform national minimum wage, even though its architects knew that this would lead to substantial unemployment among African Americans.
Finally, the 1930s witnessed the resurrection and expansion of single-sex, state minimum-wage laws in the 1930s. These laws were upheld by a Progressive Supreme Court in 1937. The Court adopted the conventional wisdom in contemporary liberal circles: women who could not command a “living wage” as defined by statute should be expunged from the labor force.
In short, in the early 20th century American labor reformers promoted an ideology that advocated excluding from the workplace those they regarded undesirable, undeserving, or defective. Once progressive ideology came to dominate government policy during the Great Depression, labor legislation was enacted that intentionally set out to exclude “undesirable” workers from the workplace.
December 07, 2009
NMB Hosts Open Meeting (or was it a Hearing?) on Proposed New Voting Rule
Jeffrey Hirsch reported back in early November on the National Mediation Board's (NMB) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) about changing the way union votes are counted in union representation elections under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). I attended the NMB's open meeting today, held at the National Labor Relations Board (the NMB doesn't have enough space to accommodate large crowds). Chairman Elizabeth Dougherty, Members Harry Hoglander and Linda Puchala, General Counsel Mary Johnson, and Associate General Counsel Kate Dowling were present. The NMB officials didn't engage in conversation with the speakers, answer any questions, or make any comments.
There were no real surprises from the speakers. Labor advocates want the NMB to change the way it counts votes in union organizing campaigns and, in support of the change, referred to, among other things, the civil rights movement, Democracy, alleged "suppression" efforts by carriers, and changes in the industry, American culture, and technology. Management advocates called for the NMB to rescind the NPRM and commented that the proposed new rule appears to be a politically motivated effort to make it easier for unions to win representation elections. Management advocates also urged the Board to implement a decertification process if it moves ahead with the new voting rule.
Now might be a good time to dust off Sections 2, Fourth and 2, Ninth of the RLA, along with a copy of the Administrative Procedure Act.
A list of the speakers follows.
- Robert Siegel, Air Transport Association of America
- Edward Wytkind, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
- Joanna Moorhead, National Railway Labor Conference
- John Prater, Air Line Pilots Association International
- Robert DeLucia, Airline Industrial Relations Conference
- Robert Roach, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- Jack Gallagher, Delta Air Lines
- Carmen Parcelli, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
- Randel Johnson, US Chamber of Commerce
- Marianne Bicksler, Association of Flight Attendants - CWA
- Sandy Gordon, Delta Air Lines
- Joel Parker, Transportation Communication International Union/IAM
- Candace Bruton, Self
- John Conley, Transport Workers Union
- Edward Bahmer, Self
- David Bourne, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Claude Sullivan, Ford & Harrison LLP
- Janette Rook, Association of Flight Attendants
- Douglas Hall, Regional Airline Association
- Kate Brofenbrenner, Cornell University
- Keith Borman, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
- John Murphy, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Roger Briton, Airline Services Council of Nat’l Air Transportation Assc.
- David Boehm, Self
- Donald Maliniak, Littler Mendelson, P.C.
- Richard Shaughnessy, Communication Workers of America, Local 6001
- David Livingston, Self
- Samuel Berry, Self
- Beth Graham, Self
- Ressel Rego, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Raymond LeJeunesse, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc.
- Reginald Robinson, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- James Dolezal, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
July 13, 2009
Borzi Confirmed as Head of EBSA
This past Friday, Phyllis Borzi was confirmed without debate by voice vote by the Senate to be the head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) at the Department of Labor. In that position, she will tackle the myriad of issues that face employers and participants in the area of pension benefit plans and welfare benefit plans.
If I had the ability to whisper in Phyllis' ear, I would ask here first to take on the inequitable state of ERISA law in the area of remedies. There are too many rights without remedies cases. Second, I would ask her to help clarify the scope of the 404(c) safe harbor for participant-directed 401(k) plans.
I'm not asking for much, am I?
September 10, 2008
More Agriprocessors Troubles
No not an immigration issue (see here for more on that). This time, it's been announced that the Postville plant has also been accused of violating child labor laws. The Iowa Attorney General has just charged the plant with thousands of misdemeanors. From the AP:
The owner and managers of the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant were charged Tuesday with more than 9,000 misdemeanors alleging that they hired minors and in some cases had children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment such as circular saws, meat grinders and power shears.
They are the first criminal charges against operators of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, where nearly 400 illegal immigrants working at the facility were arrested in May in one of the largest single-site immigration raids in U.S. history.
The complaint filed by the Iowa attorney general's office said the violations involved 32 illegal immigrant children under 18, including seven who were younger than 16. Aside from handling dangerous equipment, the complaint also says that children were exposed to dangerous chemicals such as chlorine solutions and dry ice. . . .
Charged are the company itself, plant owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, former plant manager Sholom Rubashkin, human resources manager Elizabeth Billmeyer, and Laura Althouse and Karina Freund, management employees in the company's human resources division. Each defendant faces 9,311 individual counts -- one for each day a particular violation is alleged for each worker. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said at a news conference on Tuesday that he would not elaborate on what evidence led to the indictment. . . . The charges are simple misdemeanors, each carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $65 to $625.
I keep wondering when the troubles at Agriprocessors will stop, but they never do. Makes you wonder what's going on at other plants . . . .
Hat Tip: Dennis Walsh