Tuesday, December 11, 2007



Poverty wages, brutal conditions, crippling injuries---5,500 workers in Tar Heel, North Carolina faces this every day at the world's largest hog processing plant. Cited by Human Rights Watch for violating international human rights standards, Smithfield Packing has created an environment of intimidation, racial tension and sometimes violence for workers who want a voice on the job. For many years now workers at the plant have been fighting a vicious management in order to gain the right to unionization and decent working conditions.

Yesterday, December 10th was Human Rights Day, and supporters of the Smithfield workers organized in Justice at Smithfield carried out events designed to bring attention to human rights abuses at this plant. The television chef Paula Deen has become the paid public spokeswoman for the company. Her face will be featured on pork products from Smithfield this holiday season. For the past two weeks Paula Deen has been travelling across the USA to promote her new recipe book, and at every stop along the way supporters of the Smithfield workers have been asking her very publicly to stand up for the rights of workers in the company that she promotes. Yesterday she returned home to Savannah, Georgia to be met with a Human Rights Day demonstration in her home town.

Justice at Smithfield is asking people to keep up the pressure by telephoning her office at 912-233-2600 or by using the email contact form on her website. To learn more about the struggle of the Smithfield workers consult their website. To see more about how workers' rights are systematically violated in the workshops of the "Land of The Free' see Unfair Advantage' (Workers' freedom of Association in the United States and 'Blood Sweat and Fear' (Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants). Both are produced by the Human Rights Watch organization.

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