By AMY LORENTZEN, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Nearly a thousand new charges have been filed in the state's prosecution of alleged child labor violations at a kosher meatpacking plant in northeast Iowa.
The 954 new charges were filed Jan. 16 against Jeffrey Heasley, a beef production supervisor at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville. They include alleged child labor violations of employing minors in a meatpacking establishment and for exposing minors to dangerous or poisonous chemicals.
The company also operated a plant near Gordon, Neb., that wasn't involved in the accusations.
Last September, the Iowa attorney general's office filed more than 9,000 charges against the plant, its owners and managers. Prosecutors accuse them of hiring minors and in some cases of having children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment.
According to an online court docket, the state filed a motion last week to join the case against Heasley with the other defendants facing child labor charges. Heasley's trial is scheduled for April 20, the same day as the other defendants. He is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing Wednesday.
An attorney for Heasley was not listed in court documents, the Allamakee County Clerk's Office said. A woman who answered the telephone at the Agriprocessors plant said Heasley continues to work there. A message left for him on Monday afternoon at the plant wasn't immediately returned.
The other defendants face 9,311 individual counts -- one for each day a particular violation is alleged for each worker. Those defendants include the company itself; plant owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin; former plant manager Sholom Rubashkin; human resources manager Elizabeth Billmeyer; and human resource employees Laura Althouse and Karina Freund.
As the case against the company and its owners and managers moves forward, prosecutors allege five types of violations of Iowa's child labor laws. Two charges -- employing a child under age 18 in a meatpacking plant and employing a child under age 18 in an occupation that exposes the child to dangerous or poisonous chemicals -- are charges that Heasley also faces.
The other defendants also face charges including employing a child under age 16 who operated power machinery; employing a child under age 16 who worked during prohibited hours or more hours in a day than permitted by law; and employing a child under 16 who worked more days in a week than permitted by law.
An affidavit in that case said that children were exposed to dry ice and chlorine solutions and that children were operating conveyor belts, meat grinders, circular saws, power washers and power shears.
The affidavit includes more than 1,500 work hour violations, including children under age 16 who worked more than eight hours a day and more than 40 hours a week. Children under 16 also worked 12 hour days, and during the school year worked more than four hours a day and more than 28 hours a week, the affidavit said.
[Hat Tip: Archie.]