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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.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
a bit of drug use down at the plant. Today
I thought I would go into that a little more
because of the seriousness of the problem
and the other problems that stem from it.
I would say at least 1 out of every 4 workers
down there used some sort of substance,
usually a stimulant of some type. Everybody
on back dock did use a stimulant at work.
About half of us preferred ephedrine because
it was legal. There were some who used meth
exclusively, though. Some did both.
We did it to be able to keep up the pace. You
almost have to take them to do that job. It's
just so fast paced and impossible. Right before
I stopped working there, I quit using these
stimulants and started having trouble doing the
work. I was having trouble keeping up and lasting
all night. It got harder to go in each night, too.
But, there was an ugly side to it as well, of course.
I don't know about everybody, but I tend to get
more aggressive after I have been using a
stimulant regularly for awhile. It sure made some
of those guys I worked with a lot more aggressive.
I think that the use of stimulants contributed
greatly to the amount of abuse that went on down
there, When people are spun out on speed they
are just downright mean.
Almost every one of the instances I cited in my
sworn statement that started all were perpetrated
by people under the influence of crystal meth.As far
as I know, Aron was the only one who was not on
meth when he did what I described in my statement.
This also contributed to fights among the workers.
My use of stimulants contributed to 3 different
fights when I was down there.
It also led to the sheriff being down there on a
regular basis. Someone was always getting caught
selling dope in the parking lot.
Of course, to go along with the stimulants, we also
had to do something else to come down to unwind,
relax, and sleep when we got off work. Therefore
there was quite a bit of drinking and pot smoking
going on, too.
Now that I look back on it, the drugs went a long
way toward isolating our small group of people
from outside people even more. People involved
in a drug culture tend to gravitate toward others
who are doing the same thing. In our case, that
plus the combined understanding of the problems
on the job made for even more of this isolation.
It also caused lots of problems for me at home,
which tended to come to work with me every night.
I'm sure I am not the only one that had that
problem. I can remember quite a few times that
someone came to work with an attitude, saying,
"Boy, I've had a bad day. Those chickens are in
for it tonight." This, of course, had several
versions, ranging from "I had a fight with my wife"
to "I just got out of jail." Regardless of the cause,
the meanness would be unleashed on the birds or
even other workers.
This way of life also had a physical toll on me, too.
I got ulcers from taking so many of those pills, my
blood pressure was through the roof, I was sick
to my stomach a lot, I couldn't sleep much, and
was just always tired. I was also mean and hateful
to most everyone, even my wife.
Tyson likes to say that they have a drug-free work
place. The only time you get a drug test is when
you go down there to get hired or if you have an
on-the-job accident that requires medical assistance
so they can try to get out of paying it. Tyson does
not have a drug-free workplace. If they did, they
wouldn't get any work done and they know it.
Instead of using the drug-free policy to keep the
plant clean, they use it to threaten employees into
doing illegal things for the company, to quiet dissent
against safety problems and bad conditions, or to just
get rid of those they want to get rid of. They know
everyone is using drugs because it is the only way to
keep up that kind of pace night after night in that
kind of environment.
It's kind of like the company's huge use of illegals.
They know that a normal person, living a normal
life, will never put up with the way they treat people
or the working conditions. That type of person
would surely not keep their mouth shut about all
the illegal safety violations or cruel torture. Most
people wouldn't want to do this job even without
those problems. It is a nasty job and there is no
way to make it a comfortable one. Normal people
either wouldn't last or, more likely (as I have seen
far too many times), would be sucked into the
sad lifestyle of the rest. Once that happens you
are all but doomed and stuck.
You see why I say it was a relief to be gone from
that place? This is why I am not mad at them for
firing me. It was the best thing for me to get out
of there. I had been wanting out for some time.
No, I am not in this fight against them and their
way of doing business out of revenge. I am in it
because I am trying to right a wrong. I am doing
what I believe to be the right thing to do. I was a
part of that twisted mess, living in that cesspool
of an existence, participating in that brutality for
far too long. No more.
That chapter of my life is over. However, I will
never forget what happened and is still happening
even as your read this. And I will not be silent
about it anymore. I will continue to tell people the
truth about what goes on behind those doors, no
matter how much they try to hide and deny it.
I aim to be part of the solution to the problem.