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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.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
talking about how horrible the slaughter
plant was. She asked me what I thought
the first time I went in and saw the place
and what I had to do to work in that job.
Did I think it was horrible?
When I went to work at the plant I was
in debone. That is where most people
start, unless you come down there with
some kind of experience or training to do
something else. I worked on that part of
the line for about 7 weeks. It was cold, but
not really too bad of a place.
The work was fast and we did it all by knife
in the old way. There was a big chance of
being cut by someone else because of the
crowding on the line. One night I got mad
because somebody kept stepping on my feet.
I pushed them off of my feet and screamed
at them a few times and the supervisor
decided to send me to back dock to "tone
When I got back there, it was the shock of
my life. I had caught chickens, but I was not
prepared for what I saw. When I first walked
in the door I saw one bird that someone had
pulled the head off of that was flopping
around at my feet. That was the first thing I
saw when I walked in the door. Yes, I was
indeed horrified. I backed up to get away from
it, but I couldn't go very far because there was
nowhere to go. I got far enough back that it
couldn't sling it in my face, though.
They guy that was showing me around (the
utility) chuckled and told me to "get used to
it. That one was just a runt, anyway." I
thought that this guy was the hardest guy
I had ever seen. I thought that he was hard
I decided I would have to approach this
situation the same way that I handled my
work in the military. Decide what I was doing
was benefiting people in the end. After all,
at the time, I ate chicken and I realized that
if people eat it that someone has to kill them.
I figured I could handle it if I had to. My time
in the military taught me that I could handle
just about anything if I had to.
But, I had never really comprehended they run
through there a night. It was shocking the
high amount of killing that went on every
night just at that one little plant.
As time wore on, I realized that I wasn't going
to get used to it. Just doing what was
necessary to get the job done was bad
enough. That was horrendous in itself. I
absolutely could not bring myself to join in
on the rest of the stuff--the little "games"
I have talked about. And I couldn't stand
to watch someone else do it.
Being a new guy, I didn't want to show any
weakness to the experienced hangers back
there, so I just sucked it up for a long time.
Whenever I would see them doing something
like that, I would just turn around and walk off.
It didn't take long before I quit eating chicken
after I went to work there. For a long time I
felt more justified in what I was doing because
I had to have a job, but by not buying the
chicken, I felt I wasn't supporting the company.
That was my first form of protest, albeit a
silent one, known only to myself. I just quit
eating the chicken and said nothing.
Of course, you all know that it just built up
from there. I got louder in my defense of the
chickens the longer I was there and more
outspoken about the working conditions,
which (of course) cost me my job. That was
the biggest favor Tyson ever did me--firing me.
Now I have plenty of time on my hands to
continue to speak up about the horrendous
conditions down there. And I wll.