MICHAEL J. CRUMB | 05/10/10 06:59 PM |
WATERLOO, Iowa — A former underage worker cried Monday while testifying she was exposed to harsh chemicals at an Iowa slaughterhouse where she and other teens worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Yesenia Cordero Mendoza, now 18, was one of two former underage workers to testify against former manager Sholom Rubashkin, who faces 83 child labor violation charges stemming from a May 2008 raid at the plant in which 389 illegal immigrants, including 31 children, were detained. It’s the second trial for Rubashkin, who awaits sentencing in a separate federal financial fraud case that followed the raid at the former Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville.
Mendoza began crying while testifying about the raid and the arrest of her boyfriend and other workers.
“I don’t want to remember it,” she told prosecutors through a translator.
She testified she was 15 when she used false documents to get hired at the slaughterhouse. It was common knowledge that the plant hired minors, so she forged documents that gave her age as older, and plant officials never asked for any other identification to verify it, she said. When government inspectors came to the plant, underage workers were sent home, she said.
Mendoza and Rony Ordonez Capir, who was 16 when hired, said the work involved harsh chemicals that burned their eyes, hands and throats.
Ordonez said he cut meat using hooks and knives and washed down conveyor belts with bleach and chlorine. Mendoza testified she measured the temperature of meat packaged with dry ice.… Read the rest