Rubashkin is not alone in his reprehensible treatment of workers. Here’s an example from a North Carolina plant owned by Smithfield Foods as reported by Bob Herbert writes in the New York Times (sorry, no direct link is available for free):
Union representation would make a big difference for Smithfield workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been trying to organize the plant since the mid-1990’s. Smithfield has responded with tactics that have ranged from the sleazy to the reprehensible.
After an exhaustive investigation, a judge found that the company had threatened to shut down the entire plant if the workers dared to organize, and had warned Latino workers that immigration authorities would be alerted if they voted for a union.
The union lost votes to organize the plant in 1994 and 1997, but the results of those elections were thrown out by the National Labor Relations Board after the judge found that Smithfield had prevented the union from holding fair elections. The judge said the company had engaged in myriad “egregious” violations of federal labor law, including threatening, intimidating and firing workers involved in the organizing effort, and beating up a worker “for engaging in union activities.”
Rather than obey the directives of the board and subsequent court decisions, the company has tied the matter up on appeals that have lasted for years. A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling just last month referred to “the intense and widespread coercion prevalent at the Tar Heel facility.”
Workers at Smithfield and their families are suffering while the government dithers, refusing to require a mighty corporation like Smithfield to obey the nation’s labor laws in a timely manner.
The defiance, greed and misplaced humanity of the merchants of misery at the apex of the Smithfield power structure are matters consumers might keep in mind as they bite into that next sizzling, succulent morsel of Smithfield pork.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. Even if Smithfield is worse than Rubashkin, both are still wrong. If Smithfirld were producing kosher meat, I would urge you to boycott its products, just as I have urged you to boycott Rubashkin. (My assumption is none of you, at least none of the Jews who read this blog, are consuming pork products – for those of you readers who may be, please don’t buy Smithfield.)
[Hat tip: Brooklyn Cowboy.]