Thursday, May 4, 2017

Exploitation and Abuse at the Chicken Plant

This important article breaks two mainstream media taboos: it shows how immigration status enables corporation to super-exploit workers, and it mentions one of the ways in which Washington’s foreign policy pushed millions of undocumented immigrants—so-called “illegals”—into the United States.

“Case Farms,” ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell writes, “has built its business by recruiting some of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants, who endure harsh and at times illegal conditions that few Americans would put up with. When these workers have fought for higher pay and better conditions, the company has used their immigration status to get rid of vocal workers, avoid paying for injuries, and quash dissent.” And where did the company find these vulnerable workers? From among the thousands of Guatemalans “fleeing a campaign of violence carried out by the Guatemalan military. More than two hundred thousand people, most of them Mayan, were killed or forcibly disappeared in the conflict…Through the years, the United States had supported Guatemala’s dictators with money, weapons, intelligence, and training. Amid the worst of the violence, President Reagan, after meeting with General Efraín Ríos Montt, told the press that he believed the regime had ‘been getting a bum rap.’”—TPOI editor

By Michael Grabell, New Yorker
May 8, 2017
By late afternoon, the smell from the Case Farms chicken plant in Canton, Ohio, is like a pungent fog, drifting over a highway lined with dollar stores and auto-parts shops. When the stink is at its ripest, it means that the day’s hundred and eighty thousand chickens have been slaughtered, drained of blood, stripped of feathers, and carved into pieces—and it’s time for workers like Osiel López Pérez to clean up. On April 7, 2015, Osiel put on bulky rubber boots and a white hard hat, and trained a pressurized hose on the plant’s stainless-steel machines, blasting off the leftover grease, meat, and blood.[...]

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