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Big Meat's Dirty Little Secret: Few Jobs For Americans

By       Message Martha Rosenberg     Permalink
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Slaughterhouse conditions are rarely in the news--it's bad for Big Meat's image. However,it is safe to say that few to no Americans work as knockers, stickers, bleeders, tail rippers, flankers, gutters, sawers and plate boners in U.S. slaughterhouses for under ten dollars an hour. With very few exceptions, Americans simply won't work such dangerous slaughterhouse jobs that often pay as little as $6.25 to $7 an hour.

That is why in 2001, food giant Tyson was charged with paying smugglers to transport illegal workers to its operations from Mexico across the Rio Grande and supplying them with phony social security cards. More recently the largest immigration raid in U.S. history occurred at an Iowa slaughterhouse.

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Few to no Americans work in US slaughterhouses
(Image by Martha Rosenberg)
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According to the New York Times who studied the Smithfield slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, NC, turnover in slaughterhouse jobs is 100 percent and even convicts given the right to leave their prison cells to work on the floor quit. Think about that.

In Big Meat's search for the lowest wage Hispanic workers replaced Eastern European workers decades ago. More recently, Somalis, Sudanese and Pacific Islanders are replacing Hispanic workers. Even as the Trump administration bans Muslim immigrants, the JBS Swift plants in Greeley, CO and Grand Island, NE, Pilgrim's Pride/Gold'n Plump plants in Cold Spring, MN and Arcadia, WI and Tyson Foods' Shelbyville, TN plant are largely populated by Muslim workers.

Nor does cheap meat do anyone any favors. Low priced meat enables Americans to eat meat more frequently putting them at risk for colorectal cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke and type 2 (adult onset) diabetes.

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Here is the story of how one slaughterhouse has continued to operate despite a history of egregious worker and safety violations.

Cramped apartments; Amputated Hands

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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