MORE ABUSE? Rubashkin And His Workers, cont.

The Rubashkin family opened a sister plant to Postville last year in Nebraska. The JournalStar, seemingly oblivious to the legal and ethical troubles plaguing the Rubashkin operation, reports on the plant’s first year of operations. First, what’s in it for Rubashkin?

The Nebraska plant is also unique in its partnership with the Oglala Lakota Nation, which is just north of Gordon in South Dakota. Oglala leaders declared the plant and 300 surrounding acres of Gordon part of its economic empowerment zone.

For every person living within the zone it employs — Native or otherwise — the company qualifies for a $3,000 federal tax credit.

Plant manager Gary Ruse said about 65 of the nearly 100 plant employees are Native. He estimated about 15 percent of the work force is Latino and the remainder is Anglo.…

The company got more help Thursday when Gov. Dave Heineman presented a $505,000 check to Rubashkin on behalf of the city of Gordon.

Leaders of the northern Panhandle community of 1,800 — about 430 miles northwest of Lincoln — obtained the funds from the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, said Gordon City Administrator Fred Hlava. The money represents a loan to help with plant expansion costs.

Sounds fine so far. Until you read what the workers are actually paid:

Starting pay is $8.25 per hour without benefits. Ruse said the company plans to offer benefits as soon as it can.

Reread the Forward’s damning report of Rubashkin’s Postville worker abuses. Can you ethically continue to purchase and consume any AgriProcessors product? If so, why?



Filed under Kosher Business?, Kosher Meat Scandal

16 responses to “MORE ABUSE? Rubashkin And His Workers, cont.

  1. Anonymous

    And the point is what, exactly? That the State of Nebraska is okay with this? That there are no strings attached to government development grants like compliance with the Davis-Bacon act or minimal health benefit demands? I can see the frustration that Nebraska does not demand of its employers the same sort of mandates of some other states. Indeed, Maryland is a case-in-point with its “Wal-Mart” health coverage mandate.

    At any rate the free market will not provide such on its own unless a strong incentive emerges; either through government fiat, worker unionization or some other means of prioritizing worker retention.

  2. Anonymous

    Amen to that.

  3. Anonymous

    Shmarya has a secret crush on Rubashkin, thats why he cant go 5 minutes without writing about him on the internet.

  4. Stephen Mendelsohn


    Is Rubashkin taking his cue from Jack Abramoff, another well-connected big time Republican Orthodox Jew who took advantage of Native Americans?

  5. Shmarya, you’re doing us a great service by continuing to report on Rubashkin. As Jews we are obliged to seek out and act upon this information. Pay no mind to the people who don’t want to know the truth about Rubashkin, nor those who aren’t willing to adjust their behavior in light of this information; G-d demands nothing less of us.

  6. Anonymous

    So? Is it now illegal or immoral to hire somebody for $8.50 an hour and not pay benefits? Many persons have spouses who have benefits at another job and do not need the duplication. What if Rubashkin paid $6.50 an hour and used the extra money to purchase health insurance for its employees?

    Would that satisfy your sense of morality?

  7. Stephen Mendelsohn


    As soon as the desparate Mexicans and Guatemalans find out they are paying a bit more in northwest Nebraska than the sweatshop wages in Postville, you can bet the workforce will become increasingly tilted toward undocumented immigrants.

  8. Exploiting a human being for personal gain is immoral. Intimidation, oppression, failure to pay a living wage, not providing health care… How is this not exploitive? How is this moral? Working in a slaughterhouse isn’t the same thing as a desk job; it’s the most dangerous profession in the United States. The least Rubashkin could do is pay the expenses of his employees’ work related injuries. Once he’s done that he can stop polluting the environment, allowing animals to writhe around in pools of their own blood with their throats hanging from their necks, etc.

  9. Saul,

    Have you ever owned a business? I doubt it.

    Exploiting a human being for personal gain is the definition of paid labor. When I work for others I expect my employer is exploiting my skills and generating some amount of personal gain on what they are paying me. Likewise, when I pay people for labor or services it’s because the value to me for the labor or services is hopefully greater than or equal to the cost. I own a small custom embroidery business (SPAM ALERT!!: One of my specialties is custom Judaica. I make some really beautiful items that make great, lasting gifts.), and when I’m busy enough to need to hire someone, I pay $8/hr. Some of the blank apparel or linens I use are manufactured in offshore plants – not because I want to exploit Costa Ricans but because when you want hats for your non-profit’s picnic or something, you don’t want me to charge you $10/hat for an American made hat.

    It’s funny. If it’s a worker in an abbatoir, you want them to make a lot of money. But if it’s a businessman, profit suddenly becomes treif.

    I’m not defending Rubashkin. I’m pissed off that they’ve managed to put me on the same side of an issue as PETA, and I literally think that PETA and other animal rights activists are ideological Nazis.

    There is a tendency on some of the OrthoSkeptic ™ blogs to embrace Democrats or lefty ideology in a kneejerk fashion, just because much of the Ortho community tends to tilt Republican. If you’re going to be an independent thinker, then think independently.

  10. Who said anything about these workers making a lot of money? All I’ve said is that they should be paid a living wage and shouldn’t have to go to work with broken bones because they can’t afford to go to the doctor to get an x-ray. That’s asking too much of a business owner? Of a Jew?

  11. Yochanan Lavie

    “There is a tendency on some of the OrthoSkeptic ™ blogs to embrace Democrats or lefty ideology in a kneejerk fashion, just because much of the Ortho community tends to tilt Republican. If you’re going to be an independent thinker, then think independently.”

    Amen to that, Bozoer. I don’t comment on economic issues, because I don’t know enough about economics, but I agree with that statement in general. When I was more observant, I was actually a political liberal. Now that I am a semi-observant apikorus, I am a “crunchy conservative” with a liberatarian streak. I am also a registered Independent, because the 2 mainstream parties have become cults. If both parites know the Jewish vote is in play, they won’t take us for granted. As Bob Marley wrote: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.”

  12. Yochanan,

    The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

    Okay, so the Rasta religion is a pastiche including pseudo-Zionism, an insane theology that posits that “almighty God is a living man”, and more ganja than even the Rebbe, zol zein gefried, can smoke, but they have some pretty cool music, no?

    BTW, you ever hear King Django’s Yiddish ska?

    What perplexes me about US politics is how the Dems take the Jewish vote (and $ support) for granted while they pander to blacks.


    Do you know how much it costs an employer to provide medical benefits?

  13. King Django is great! Thanks for the tip. I just heard him and bought 5 songs from iTunes.

  14. Yochanan Lavie

    Bozoer: As I have posted regarding Matisyahu, I like the music and biblical references in reggae, but disapprove of their messianism. The Rebbe, Jesus, Haile Selassie- they are all idols of flesh and blood. I also like some of Bob’s lyrics because they remind me of William Blake’s poetry (although I’m sure that’s not intentional). Art is transcendant, but one must not be uncritical.

    I haven’t heard of King Django, but I’ll check him out.

    As for politics, black conservatives are also tired of being taken for granted by the dems. And of the Jews, it’s been said that they earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans. (Not that I have anything against Puerto Ricans).

    Jews, blacks, and hispanics alike should get off the liberal big gov’t plantation (which exists in BOTH parties).

  15. As a matter of fact I do, Bozoer. There’s no question that it cuts into a company’s profits, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a small price to pay for living an ethical life and maintaining sound business practices. My father had to work for slime bags like Rubashkin when he left Germany in ’39. People took advantage of him because they knew he couldn’t raise a stink, and because they knew he needed the little money they paid him to support his family. Nothing you can say is going to convince me that depriving employees of health care and fair wages is in any way acceptable.

  16. A room in a hot Ann Arbor cooperative.

    Homegrown from Thai seeds grown on the roof flash curing in the toaster oven.

    Bob Marley ululating about chasing the crazy baldheads out of town coming out of the smaller Advents.

    Incredibly smart, beautiful redhead, with long legs and short cutoffs wipes some sweat from her brow.

    An antique desk fan’s bearing creaks.

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