Since I last posted on Agriprocessors, shortly after the company was hit with more than 9,000 counts of child labor violations, the company’s "former" CEO (and still current VP) Rabbi Sholom M. Rubashkin was arrested on felony immigration and identity fraud charges. That was followed two weeks later by his second arrest on felony bank fraud charges. Rubashkin faces more that 50 years in federal prison, along with more time in state lockup.
Agriprocessors itself was indicted shortly after Rubashkin’s second arrest, and the company faces millions of dollars in fines.
Early in November, Agriprocessors declared bankruptcy. Then, on November 14, the day of Rubashkin’s first federal arrest, Agriprocessors missed its payroll, leaving workers – many of them already poor – without money and, in many cases, food. Production ceased shortly after.
Now Agriprocessors’ court-appointed trustee, Joseph Sarachek of New York, is trying to restart production and pay workers – at least those workers who play ball with the company.
In effect, Saracheck is running a plantation with slavery replaced by indentured servitude. If workers come back to work, they will be given back wages owed to them in dribs and drabs. If they do not come back to work, they will need to wait for the final bankruptcy settlement – which means they likely will never see any money. Secured creditors like banks get paid first, and Agriprocessors has more debt now, including potential fines, than industry experts I’ve spoken with believe it has equity.