<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

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.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Tyson's Usage of the "Chicken Plant Attitude" 

If you read the article I wrote about at the end
of yesterday's post, then you have already
seen the great care and concern that Tyson
shows for its workers.

I remember several years ago when I still
worked at Tyson there was a fire at one of
their plants. I think there was something
like 15 workers died. There have been
quite a few occasions of deaths associated
with the company, even the industry as a
whole. There was actually even an investiga-
tion of the problem.

I can say that it was the same situation
down there in Grannis. We also had more
than one bomb threat at the plant when I
worked there. It was right after 9/11, and
it wasn't some terrorist that you could spot
at a glance around here. It was just a guy
about 30 years old with an Internet connection
that Tyson had done wrong one time too many.

He wasn't just making an idle threat, either. He
was intending to go through with it. A bomb
was found. The plant was never evacuated, but
the USDA left, just like in the situation in that
article. We were never even told about it until
it was mostly over.

It wasn't him that called in the threat. It was
his wife. He said later at his trial that the reason
that he let her call the plant first was so that the
workers could get out. He said it wasn't the
workers he was mad at - it was the company
itself, and he didn't want any of his fellow workers
to be hurt.

His warning would have been in vain because we
were standing there on the line. They told us
that clean-up had us held up. It wasn't until
after the local sheriff's department found the
actual bomb and made the plant manager evacuate
us that we were told anything or removed from
harm's way.

The deputy on the scene said that the only thing
that saved us was that the guy didn't connect his
timer, his power supply, and explosive charge
properly. The timer was set to go off 35 minutes
before it was found. It would have probably
killed a bunch of people, destroyed about half the
plant, and made a hell of a fire. It was made out
of 4 sticks of stolen dynamite he had strapped
to a butane tank that was 3/4 full and the size
of a semi trailer.

I have heard of similar things at other plants -
things like employees trying to set the plants
on fire. I have also known of people sugaring
the gas tanks of company trucks. There was
a rash of bombs and bomb threats after 9/11,
though. It seemed like everybody that had a
grudge wanted to build a bomb or call in a threat.

The biggest problem with this is, if Tyson had
so many plants have this happen after 9/11,
and if they had actually found bombs in some
instances, why wasn't their first course of
action to evacuate the employees?

Especially if Tyson's memo to that plant 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

From my time in the military, I know that there
are certain procedures for situations such as
this that should be followed. The first thing you
do is to evacuate the area. You never take it for
granted that the guy is bluffing - never. You
evacuate the building and call in the proper

One of these days someone is going to blow
one of these plants up. So far it has been
mostly bluffs, but there has also been just
plain luck because of the person's incompetence
at bomb-making. But there are people who
work at these plants who do know how to
build bombs. There are a lot of veterans like
myself that live around this area. Had it been
me that made the bomb, or somebody like me
(of which there are quite a few), the outcome
would have been much different. (No, I am not
threatening to do such a thing. I have no desire
to do this. I'm just saying that some people
like me have the know-how.)

Although there really is no dependable security
to ensure safety of the food supply or the
plant itself, I don't think that it will be terrorists
that will finally manage to blow up one of these
places or do something to the meat. It will be
some employee they have screwed over one time
too many.

The way the company treats people fosters an
attitude against them. I am sure if you have
been reading very much of this site you have
come to that conclusion by now yourself.

Once you take the "chicken plant attitude"
I discussed earlier, add the nature of the job
itself, and throw in the ill treatment of the
workers, you create a recipe for rage and
hatred great enough to do violence.

For Tyson not to take a threat like that
seriously is the height of stupidity. They
know how they have treated people in the
past and that they have made enemies. The
fact is that those workers were as replaceable
as the chickens were in Tyson's view.

I have heard too many times a supervisor
tell me and others that if we didn't like
something, there were plenty of Mexicans
down at the border waiting to take our
place. Therefore, we were expendable and
they made sure we knew it.

It should be quite clear to all who have read
this whole site that there are definitely some
major problems down in that plant (at least there,
if not industry-wide) that need to be addressed
immediately. Many people still try to lie to
themselves, disbelieving what they read here
as so outrageous that it couldn't be so. I
hear them say that there is no way they could
make money by doing business this way.

I don't know how more plain to be than those
people are just wrong. As much as we would
all like to wish this away, we cannot. It is not
that simple. If it was, the workers would have
done so long time ago.
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