In the Loop

An open secret in NE Iowa

Posted at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (3 Comments)

Bloom.jpgWe just got off the line with Stephen Bloom, a journalism prof down in Iowa City who -- several years ago -- wrote a book about the kosher meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa that suffered a huge immigration raid earlier this month. It was a long but terrific interview. He's got a passion and depth of experience with the place that would be hard to find anywhere else.

This is a remarkable story, which has gotten only scattered coverage outside Iowa -- which is why I wanted us to look into it. Not only did the feds finally bust open a situation pretty much everybody in Northeast Iowa knew about, but (if gov't affidavits and first-hand press accounts are any guide) the fingers of wrong-doing seem to extend deep into the company management. This could get very interesting. (Or....not. Prof. Bloom isn't optimistic the company will actually face much penalty in the end.)

The initial development is the workers getting slammed (five months in jail before deportation). But there are reasons to think the company might be next, and the details are dramatic. If you want to read up, the Des Moines Register has been doing excellent coverage, as has the closest local paper, the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

We'll have our interview with Stephen Bloom featured on tomorrow's show. I've got a call out to the company for comment -- nothing yet. They haven't been saying much in the press so far.

Comments (3)

These (ICE) sweeps are a provision enacted in the 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli bill, when the first AMNESTY became law. Since then an invasion has taken place, with estimates of between 15 to 38 million aliens illegally settling here. Ted Kennedy promised no more AMNESTIES, but American fell in to a false state of trusting our politicians who have tried several times to bring us another abomination immigration law. We have seen very limited arrest and imprisonment from the aftermath of (ICE) raids. Pariah employers in corporate farms and general businesses, have not seen the interior walls of prison. Obviously we must relieve America of criminal aliens, but also anybody who flaunts the (IRCA) law. We must insist Democrats endorse the Federal SAVE ACT(H.R.4088), by phoning (2022243121) There leaders are keeping it dormant, waiting for the new presidents AMNESTY. Except that on its enactment millions more will pour across our border. The millions here already will be dwarfed in comparison to the next onslaughts, coming from third world countries. NUMBERSUSA.
Copy & Paste and distribute freely.

Posted by Brittanicus | May 29, 2008 4:05 PM

How was the historical perspective from just a few years ago missing?

The jobs in the packing plants were once highly sought, well paid jobs.

Generations worked there, supporting their families, retiring with pensions.

It is not a matter of no one wanting to work in the plants.

The companies hammered wages and broke unions.

And with crocodile tears, they claim that they had no idea that the workers they hire at sub-standard wages have irregular papers.

And when the government raids the workplace... Who suffers? Who is jailed? Which families are torn asunder?

It is a criminal shame.

Posted by bryan in st. paul | May 30, 2008 6:56 PM

Funny you should mention history. Stephen Bloom did in fact spend a lot of time talking about how meat processing plants moved to the rural areas to remove themselves from heavily unionized cities. He said that it made economic sense to move to more unregulated rural areas because they could reduce wages and they were closer to the cows they slaughtered. Unfortunately we had to cut most of that since we were short on time for the interview. But I'm sure you can read more about it in his book!

Posted by Sanden Totten | June 4, 2008 3:22 PM

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