Their Poultry Is Kosher. Shouldn’t Their Labor Practices Be?

“For us, Kashrus means aiming higher,” declares the website of the Birdsboro Kosher Farms. “We take no shortcuts and accept no excuses.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), however, begs to differ.

In September the government issued citations to Birdsboro for willful and serious safety and health violations, following an investigation after a worker’s thumb was amputated.

“Birdsboro Kosher Farms is leaving its employees vulnerable to a variety of safety and health hazards that can cause serious injuries,” said an OSHA official.

Debbie Berkowitz, Senior Fellow in Workplace Safety and Health at the National Employment Law Project and former senior policy adviser and chief of staff at OSHA, is working on a campaign encouraging consumers to use their buying power to improve labor conditions at plants. Berkowitz notes that the main differences she sees between the labor conditions of poultry plants does not relate to whether the plants are kosher, but rather whether the workers are unionized. “Write to the company or talk to the store where you buy the chickens. Ask the butcher: ‘Where do you get these chickens?’ And say: ‘I can’t buy this unless you tell me that they’re protecting their workers’.”

Amelia Dornbush on the Lilith Blog