It was a wild, contentious meeting between Joseph Sarachek, Agriprocessors court-appointed trustee, and workers, former workers and townspeople. As Sarachek…
…dodged the most pressing questions, the crowd grew ever more hostile.
Sarachek was asked who made the decision determining which workers were rehired and which were not. His Answer?
"I can't speak to that."
He was asked who is making the day-to-day decisions for Agriprocessors.
(Sarachek is in New York much of the time and the two consultants he hired only work three days per week – but those three days include travel time, which means they work one day or 1 1/2 days each per week. This means someone has to function as the day-to-day boss.)
He did not have one.
A low level Agriprocessors supervisor, a man who had been rehired stood up and said he could not take Agriprocessors' b.s. any longer." I got my back pay today,: he said, "and this will be the last check I get from Agriprocessors." He stormed out of the meeting as the crowed wildly applauded him.
As the crowd reached the verge of rioting, Jeff Abbas of Postville Radio stood up and calmed them down. Abbas told me he was afraid the crowd would harm Sarachek, something another source told me, as well.
Sarachek wants to start making deli products like hot dogs and salami, and he is "hopeful" the bank will extend financing so Agriprocessors can run until at least February.
Sarachek could sell Agriprocessors today to real meat industry buyers who would run Agriprocessors as a kosher plant. But they know the real financial situation and want to buy the company (or significant parts of it) at near Chapter 7 liquidation prices.
Sarachek's job is to sell the plant as quickly as possible – but at the highest price possible.
So he convinced the bank – Agriprocessors' largest secured creditor – to allow the plant to reopen in the hopes of getting the price higher.
The problem is, as that price rises, legitimate buyers will be much less likely to buy. And that opens the door for more trouble for Postville down the road.
And that trouble is something Sarachek cares little to nothing about.
When asked what he was doing to make sure the buyer of Agriprocessors is a good corporate citizen that shows responsibility for the town and its residents, Sarachek responded, "My job is to sell the plant as expeditiously as possible."
When I interviewed him last Friday, I asked Sarachek what he was doing to vet potential buyers to screen out groups acting as fronts for the Rubashkin family.
Every buyer has to fill out and sign a declaration – the standard operating procedure in any bankruptcy sale, I'm told.
Is Sarachek doing any investigation past that?
Sarachek is perfectly willing to trust that group of mysterious Ukrainian investors or those guys from Nigeria who suddenly decided kosher meat is the best way to spend their lottery winnings. Sarachek doesn't seem to care who buys – as long as their check doesn't bounce.
Sarachek rehired Heshy Rubashkin, Chaim Abrahams and other Agriprocessors insiders who are, in some cases, clearly implicated in Agriprocessors' wrongdoing.
Why did he do that?
He calls it triage. He needs them, he says, to make he plant run.
Still, Sarachek was able to issue checks for Heshy Rubashkin, Abrahams, and others from the Rubashkin inner circle. And that says something about Sarachek's morality – and what it says, I think, is not good.
Saracheck's unnamed managers rehired some workers who had only worked at the plant for a few weeks. They also rehired workers who had worked there for years.
At the same time, other long term employees found themselves jobless all over again, as did workers trucked in from across the country and beyond only to find their dreams dashed by Rubashkin lies. And no one would answer their questions about who was rehired and how those decisions were made and who actually made them.
Were good workers cast out on the street while cronies were rehired? Were workers who tried to do an honest job passed over for those who did the Rubashkins' bidding unquestioned?
During the meeting, a (now former) Agriprocessors employee stood up to ask a question.
I came all the way from Indianapolis to work here, the man said. I like it here. I want to stay here and make my life here. But I was not called back to work. Why?
Sarachek, surrounded by the men who made that decision, "could not speak" to the man's question.