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Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Friday, October 17, 2003
shower knobs. There was a bad problem
with theft down there. There was nothing
that was really safe if you didn't have your
eyes on it.
Most of it was minor stuff. Someone would
take your food, cigarettes, money, even once
a leather bomber jacket. We had a break room
to leave our stuff in. You can't exactly take
anything you want to keep in the hanging cage
with all the nasty stuff, so we had to leave our
personal stuff in the break room unattended.
Some people lost jewelry. Two guys I knew of
lost their wedding rings. I don't know how many
lost their watches.
Sometimes the victims of such thefts would
retaliate. I, along with two other guys who had
been also regularly victimized for about two weeks,
all got together and cooked up a pan of Ex-Lax
brownies. I figure each brownie had a box of it
cooked into it. That night when we came out to
1st break, all of our brownies were gone. We had
a giggling fit. We knew what was about to happen.
We knew we were about to catch our thief.
About 30 minutes after we got back from break, we
were standing there hanging. One of the hangers,
a Mexican who had been there about 3 weeks,
grabbed his butt with both hands and ran for the
door. It was a futile effort. He didn't make it.
We laughed uproariously. Even over the sound of
the plant he could hear us. He left a trail all the way
out the door and never came back. Ha ha ha!
To the best of my knowledge, there was never any
more food-stealing on back dock when I worked
We had another guy on back dock that needed some
tires and couldn't afford them on what he made. He
told me he figured Tyson owed them to him since he
wore his out driving back and forth to work, and he
was going to get them.
So, about 2:30 a.m. on our 2nd break, he went
across to the truck shop and, in full view of everybody
and in bright streetlights, took two tires off the back
of a Tyson pickup and changed them with his old worn-
out ones. I can still see him rolling those tires across
the parking lot, waving to the cop as he drove by on
the highway. He got clean away with it.
But, what was weird were the strange thefts of things
most people would never think of, like the shower
knobs and water faucet handles. Dozens of these
kept repeatedly being stolen. They finally put push-
pedals to operate the sinks so that you could turn
the water on since they couldn't keep faucet handles
I remember I was sitting and drinking a Coke with a
girl that did all the ordering in the maintenance shop.
She said that in the year of 1998 Tyson spent $3700
on water faucet handles just at Grannis. The question
I am wondering is, why? Why water faucet handles?
What are they doing with all of them?
Another funny thing that happened along this line
down there was that they put a great big steel frame
and a great big master padlock on the toilet paper
dispensers. People were stealing toilet paper by the
roll faster than they could put it out in the dispensers.
Everybody got a big laugh out of that.
Tyson finally started cracking down on the problem
in '99. They fired one girl for having 10 rolls of paper
towels in her locker. They caught another guy carrying
two 40 lb. boxes of chicken out of the freezer. They
even caught one guy carrying a live chicken out of the
They busted a whole ring of people at the Nashville,
AR plant that were ordering truck parts one at a time
until they could build a truck and sell it. They were
building 2 a year like that and had been doing so for
about 4 years. They had a whole network going over
there. Some of the people were working at Grannis,
too. They started the investigation at Grannis, which
led to the ring there.
They were ordering truck parts that didn't fit on
anything Grannis plant was running and all of these
suspect parts were being reshipped over to Nashville.
The guys over at Nashville would order the rest of the
parts for the truck. Then they would take all the parts
to a shop that was owned by a member of the group
that didn't work for Tyson, but had a shop and tools.
After working on weekends, they would work together
to build 2 brand-new Mack trucks a year. They would
then sell them out of state.
The funny thing was that this whole investigation
started over the employee stealing the paper towels.
There were so many people stealing things down there
because they couldn't afford to make ends meet on
what they were making.
These are other examples of the the effects of having
the "me first" attitude I discussed yesterday. There
are many aspects to this type of thinking and the
way such thinking manifests in the daily life of such
an individual. It is a contagious social disease. It
only takes one person like that in a group of people
to make the others have to change to handle the
threat and suspicion. Before long, a sense of acute
injustice and callousness sets in and you feel like
no one is innocent. They are all out for themselves
and they don't care, so why should you?
And, of course, like I have said before, this type of
thinking is reinforced by Tyson with the inherent
uncaring brutal nature of the work as well as the
nurtured rivalry between workers to keep them
If you want to see just how much Tyson cares
about its employees, read this article I found
this morning. Seems there was a bomb threat
at one of their plants. The USDA inspectors left
the lines for 2 hours along with the managers,
while they forced the workers to stay.
"workers in part of the plant handling raw and
fully cooked foods continued working and didn't
know anything was happening...Another worker
said she went outside the plant when she heard
of the threat, but a supervisor told her to return
What does Tyson have to say about all this????
The Tyson memo said the company cared about
the workers' safety.
"We want to assure all of our team members that
we are taking every precaution to ensure your
safety," the employee memo said.
Yeah, since when?