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Meat plant cleaning service fined $1.5 million for hiring minors

MINNEAPOLIS — One of the nation’s largest cleaning services for food processing companies employs more than 100 children in hazardous work at 13 meat processing plants across the country, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Friday. announced that it had announced civil penalties for

The investigation into Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) began last summer. Authorities searched his three meatpacking plants in Nebraska and Minnesota, owned by JBS USA and Turkey Valley Farms, and found 31 underage workers aged 13. They also searched the PSSI headquarters in Keeler, Wisconsin. Underage workers were found at his eight state factories.

The department reviewed records of 55 locations where PSSI provided cleaning services and found many more violations involving children aged 13 to 17. When PSSI agreed, officials said he obtained a temporary injunction in November and a permanent injunction in December. A judgment that promised the company not to employ minors illegally.

In the past three years, children were found using corrosive cleaning agents to clean “dangerous power-driven equipment such as skull crackers and razor-sharp bone saws,” the ministry said. Jessica Luhmann, chief deputy manager of the wages and hours department, told reporters.

At least three minors, including a 13-year-old, were burned by chemicals used to clean the JBS factory in Grand Island, Nebraska, officials said.

Some of the children worked night shifts and attended school during the day, the agency’s spokeswoman Rhonda Burke said in an email.

The PSSI fine paid Thursday was $15,138 per minor, the highest allowed by federal law. But investigators believe the company actually employed far more than her 102 children they identified. Under the consent decree, the PSSI must identify and remove them from hazardous work, Looman said.

“Don’t get me wrong, this is not a clerical error or the behavior of a rogue individual or bad manager,” said Looman. “These findings represent a systemic failure across the PSSI organization to ensure that children are not working in violation of the law. They showed they were too young to work, but they were still employed at these facilities.”

The company’s vice president of marketing, Gina Swenson, said in a statement Friday that the company has a “no-tolerance policy for hiring anyone under the age of 18.”

As soon as PSSI became aware of the allegations, it conducted an audit and hired an outside law firm to enforce its policies, she said. PSSI also conducted additional training for recruiters, including identifying identity theft, she said.

None of the minors identified by federal investigators have yet worked for PSSI, and the Department of Labor “has not identified any managers currently employed who are aware of the inappropriate conduct,” Swenson added.

PSSI says it employs about 17,000 people at more than 700 locations nationwide, making it one of the largest food processing plant cleaning companies.

The 13 factories found in violation were in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas. The highest number of violations was at a JBS plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, where PSSI employed 27 of his minors. Twenty-six children worked at the Cargill plant in Dodge City, Kansas. At his JBS factory in Worthington, Minnesota, he worked 22 minors. The Labor Department also searched Tyson’s facility in Sedalia, Missouri, but found no verifiable violations there.

Asked about the children’s immigration status, Labor Department attorney Seema Nanda said the Department of Labor is only focused on whether they are minors.

Also, because the ministry is a civil law enforcement agency, officials will comment on whether any of the factories could face criminal charges or whether any of the children are victims of human trafficking. You can’t, said Michael Lazzelli, the department’s regional administrator for wages and hours. Split. He said any trafficking detected will be referred to other agencies.

Since 2018, according to Luhmann, minors have been working more hours than permitted at their legal jobs or using types of equipment that they shouldn’t be using while doing their legal jobs. child labor violations have increased by approximately 50%, such as children working there. They shouldn’t even be employed in the first place.

“No one under the age of 18 should work in a meat processing plant,” she said.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Meat plant cleaning service fined $1.5 million for hiring minors

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