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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.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

More on Discrimination By Management 

Yesterday I talked about the discrimination
by management against Hispanics. This
article that I read involves a Vietnamese
man that worked for 13 years for IBP (now
Tyson). He also has sued for discrimination.
It sounds like he has a pretty good case.

He has a whole list of things that were done
to him that sound pretty typical to me of
the prevailing attitude management has
toward any worker seeming to try to rise
above a certain level. His suit claims:

---the problems started on Oct. 27, 2000,
when a white co-worker was selected for a
superintendent's position that Mr. Nguyen
applied for, but for which he was never

--on Jan. 14, 2002, another white co-worker
who had not applied was selected for a
superintendent's job over him. He also claims
in the lawsuit that he was yelled at by a plant
manager when he asked why he was not
interviewed for the position.

-- on June 20, 2002, he was the only applicant
for another superintendent's position but he
was never interviewed

--On Nov. 12, 2002...he went in to apply for a
fourth superintendent's position, but was told
not to apply because he was being demoted
from general foreman to a lower position
because of poor work performance. He received
an $11,000 pay cut, but the lawsuit claims he
never was written up or counseled prior to the

-- he was harassed repeatedly from late November
2001 on, including having his name plate taken
from his office door on two occasions. Once it
was glued to a toilet door and another time it
was thrown in the toilet

--from May 13, 2002, to July 10, 2002...had to
work 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts without any breaks
and without overtime pay and claims a supervisor
told him, "You better love it or you have a

--he injured his knee at home July 13, 2002,
and had restrictions not to use the stairs at
work, which were ignored by management...
one employee told Mr. Nguyen he heard a
supervisor say he was going to "have some
fun with this Vietnamese handicap" before
paging him on the radio, requiring Mr. Nguyen
to come up the stairs. Several employees
allegedly saw the same man mimic Mr.
Nguyen's limp.

-- On Aug. 2, 2002...was assigned to share
an office with the supervisor. When Mr. Nguyen
arrived with his things the supervisor allegedly
told him to get out and said he refused to share
an office with him...claims the same supervisor
later remarked "he can't even speak English
right" and often made fun of Mr. Nguyen's height.

There is more, but you get the picture. It is
not really just about one particular ethnic group.
Sometimes it is not about ethnic groups at all.
It could be something as simple as not agreeing
with their ideas of the ways things ought to be
run. What I call "toeing the party line."

There is written policy and unwritten policy in
that place, as I am sure there is at most any
really big corporation.

The situation down there at Grannis is that
there is a core group of people that have been
there long enough to somehow have gotten
the idea that the plant is their own little
personal domain. And they will run it any
damn way they please.

You have a steady stream of desperate
people coming in the door, ready to do just
about anything to make a living. You have
heard me say that repeatedly.

This group of supervisors has gotten used
to being able to push these people around
and do pretty much whatever they wanted.
This happens because the people are too
worried about losing their job to say much,
at least out loud, at work. You certainly hear
plant about it after work, though.

But, whenever you had a situation like when
I or others would stand up, they would usually
first put you in a position to try to make you
quit. If that doesn't work, or in my case, they
know it won't work, then they will just outright
fire you. It is also their policy to fight every
single claim for unemployment, no matter what
the circumstances may be. This is a guaranteed
8 weeks of no income, even if you prove that
the firing was unjustified and they give you the
back-pay. And there is a extra 2 weeks of just
processing time involved also. Basically, a person
goes without income for 10 weeks, regardless of'
the reason for losing their job.

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows that there
are no other jobs around, at least no steady ones,
especially with benefits. They wouldn't have been
at Tyson in the first place if they could have found
a better job. Nobody is there because it is a fun
job or they enjoy the work. At least, not the ones
that actually do the work.

Now, supervisors probably enjoy their work. They
get bonuses for driving their workers like slaves.
The workers don't get anything out of it. Maybe,
if they are feeling especially generous, they might
give a nickel an hour raise or something. Oh wow!
Thanks. One of their favorite things to do was
to give your pay a 25 cent raise, but raise your
insurance premiums $20 to $40.

People are there because they are stuck. If they
try to raise above a certain level, they are met
with very strong resistance. They just try to
make your life so miserable that you don't
want to stay there. If that doesn't work, they
will sabotage your department so that they
can write you up before they fire you.

These two people in the articles are only heard
about because they were lucky enough to be
able to get a lawyer to help them. But, it's
not just the ethnic people that they treat this
way. It's pretty much anybody they think is
less than or inferior to them.

I was friends with a plant nurse who got rail-
roaded and fired, partly because she wouldn't
put out for the night shift superintendent we
had at the time. I heard that she filed a suit
against them, too, but I never heard what
happened about it. But, she had also made the
mistake of backing the workers in situations
involving illness and injury.

One in particular was when a Mexican guy got
hurt because of a missing safety guard on a
machine. There were signs all over the piece
of machinery saying not to operate it without
the guard in place. But, his supervisor had
made him turn it on, anyway. Somehow or
another, he got tangled up in it and got hurt
pretty bad. I think it was a broken arm.
The point is that Tyson was fighting his workers
comp claim, and she was willing to testify for
the guy. That was what finally did it for her.
That was the last straw. They fired her. We
never heard from her again, except to hear
that there was some kind of suit. I hope
she wins. I would certainly help her. She
always treated us workers right.

But that kind of attitude us not encouraged
at Tyson. I think I have more than made the
case for that assumption. Management cares
about money and production, not the workers
or the animals they kill. That is quite plain.
It's all about the money. Production pays.
You must care about that more than anything,
in other words, be greedy, callous, and cold.

If you try to penetrate upper management
and you care about the workers, you won't
go any further. They will either run you off
or get rid of you. There must be no dissension
within the ranks.

Everyone must "toe the party line."
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