Judge: Kosher Company Illegally Coerced Workers Before Union Election

By Nathaniel Popper

Published July 01, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A company that recently became the largest kosher meat producer in the United States, Alle Processing, was found by the National Labor Relations Board to have illegally intimidated its employees before a union election last fall.

Raymond Green, a judge with the government’s labor board, found that the Queens-based company had violated labor law on a number of counts before an election on November 13, 2009 in which a majority of workers voted against joining the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

In his decision, dated June 17 and just publicly released, Green wrote that Alle’s behavior “affected all or most of the employees, that it occurred close to the time of the election and that it was sufficiently coercive so that it would substantially affect the outcome of the election.”

Green ordered the company to hold new union elections. In the last election, 200 workers voted against the union, 113 for it and 53 votes were disputed.

The decision is the latest indication of problematic labor relations in the kosher meat industry. A Forward investigation in 2006 found poor working conditions and intimidation at the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse of Agriprocessors, which was the largest kosher meat company at that time. Since those articles, Agriprocessors was the subject of an immigration raid that eventually led the company to file for bankruptcy.

The issue of worker intimidation at Alle was first raised by another Forward investigation last fall, which detailed the concerns of workers at the company, particularly those who are undocumented immigrants. The judge’s decision this week echoes many of the complaints that were enumerated in that Forward article. One employee told the judge that the company’s president, Sam Hollander, had threatened to call immigration authorities if the workers voted to unionize. Other workers told the judge that during meetings with employees, Hollander pointed to Agriprocessors and said that Alle could meet the same fate if workers chose to unionize.

The judge determined that the company had put up posters, and stapled leaflets to workers’ paychecks threatening that workers would lose their job if they voted to join the union. One sign posted near the company’s time clocks said, “Obama says Unions are a bad deal for workers today. Save your job. Vote ‘No’ Union!”

Green wrote that Hollander, the company president, denied knowing about the posters and leaflets, but Green expressed skepticism about Hollander’s claim.

“Hollander’s testimony essential boils down to a claim that ‘ignorance is bliss,’” the judge wrote. “I don’t buy it.”

Alle Processing employs more than 400 workers in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens, and is certified by most leading kosher authorities, including the Orthodox Union. It sells its products under a number of labels, including Meal Mart, Mon Cuisine and NY Kosher Deli.

A lawyer for Alle, Jeffrey Meyer, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.