NEW YORK – Agriprocessors Inc., already in the spotlight for immigration raids this year, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court reconsider its position that illegal immigrants have a right to join labor unions.

The Supreme Court reportedly has yet to decide whether to take the case, but if it does, it could have ramifications for a complicated area of U.S. labor law.

The issue started at Agriprocessors' small distribution facility on the Brooklyn waterfront in 2005, when a group of about 20 workers voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Agriprocessors fired most of the workers after the vote, saying it had investigated their Social Security numbers and concluded at least 17 were in the country illegally.

The company also refused to accept the unionization vote, arguing that it was invalid because of the workers' immigration status.

The National Labor Relations Board sided with the union and took the company to court. The company ultimately gave the workers $2,500 apiece to settle their retaliation complaints, but the dispute over whether the warehouse is now officially a United Food and Commercial Workers Union shop is still unresolved, according to reports.

This is the latest time that Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, has gotten into the news. In May, 400 of its workers were arrested on illegal immigration charges in one of the biggest raids in U.S. history. Last week, the company and its officers were charged with violating Iowa child labor laws.

After the child labor charges were filed, the Orthodox Union, one of the largest kosher certifiers in the country, reportedly said it would suspend kosher supervision of the plant unless the company hires a new chief executive officer within "several weeks."


Source: Associated Press