Saturday, August 18, 2007

Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world, the fourth largest turkey processor and fifth largest beef processor in the USA. It is a multinational conglomerate with numerous subsidiaries and joint ventures, operating over 40 pork producing plants worldwide, seven in the USA. It is also a vertically integrated company that raises about two thirds of the hogs that it slaughters. Its feedlot for cattle is the largest cattle feeding operation in the USA. Nowadays Smithfield operates not just in the USA but also in Poland, Romania, France, the UK, and through joint ventures in Mexico, China, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Germand and Italy. In 2006 Smithfield reported total sales of $11.4 billion and net profits were $172.7 million.
Only about 56% of Smithfield's 31,800 employees at its pork plants are unionized, and even fewer of its total 52,500 total employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. This company has been the target of a particularily long and vigorous unionization campaign, and nowhere has the contest been so hard fought as at the company's plant in the town of Tar Heel, North Carolina, the largest hog processing plant in the world. The workers there have to suffer poverty wages, brutal working conditions, racial tension, intimidation,crippling injuries and sometimes even company violence in the face of collusion between government and corporation to hamper unionization. Smithfield has been cited by Human Rights Watch for violating international human rights standards.
This August 29th the Smithfield workers and their many supporters will be present at the annual shareholders meeting of the company to protest the continued resistance of the company to granting its employees decent working conditions and the right to unionize. They will also be presenting a petition signed by as many supporters of these workers as possible. To access this petition and sign it go to . The whole story of the Smithfield workers and the company that they are fighting can be found at their website at . Join the vast army of unions, church groups, local governments, citizens' organizations and many others who are trying to bring justice for these workers.

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