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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.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
talk about something even more important
first. I have been thinking for some time
about writing a book about my experiences.
I have been reading quite a bit of what
others in the movement have written and
talking with several people about this idea.
The thing is, I can't do all this and maintain
a full-time job, even if I were to find one.
Recently I put up a PayPal donation button
on the site after quite a bit of prompting
by supporters wanting to help.
Well, I have agreed to try this idea. But,
my success will depend on you, the reader
and supporter of this work. It is extremely
hard for me to ask for money from anyone,
but it has been made clear to me that I can
make this a full-time job with all my time
devoted to the movement if I can get enough
support from the public.
Some people have expressed an uncertainty
about using their credit card with the PayPal
button. For those people who would rather
send something directly to me, just email me
and I will be glad to send you my address.
You can remain anonymous if you wish, but
those who contribute to this project will get
a mention of thanks in my book if you so
desire. So, if you want to be famous and
get your name in print, this is your chance! :)
Now, on to other business - today's post:
In the early summer, sometimes when the
weather warms up really fast and stays that
way or warms up a few weeks earlier than
normal, it causes the mortality rates in the
chicken houses to go down. So, you end up
with (over a period of a couple of months)
a couple of million extra chickens that were
expected to die before being caught. This
causes the plant to run extra hours and
translates to six-day weeks.
Usually, the workers don't like that very much
because the weekend is messed up. When you
have to work Friday night and again Sunday
night, you don't have a weekend because you
sleep right through it.
It would probably have been early summer of
1999 (maybe actually spring - May or June)
when the incident I am about to talk about
happened. It's hard for me to remember
exact dates because I never thought I would
have to. Who ever expected me to need to
remember any of that? I sure didn't.
Anyway, we had worked three six-day weeks
in a row, and on the 4th one - that Friday
night - somebody spiked the Gatorade jug
with a half gallon of Bacardi 151 rum. This
went into 5 gallons of the red Gatorade.
The company supplied the Gatorade because
the water coming out of the water fountain
was reddish-brown and sometimes had
lumps in it that stopped up the fountain.
Hey, what do you expect? It came from
Tyson's joke of a water recycling center.
(BTW - when the city of Grannis runs low on
water during a crisis, that's where they get
it from. Don't drink the water in Grannis!)
Needless to say, by the time we went back
to work after 1st break, everyone was feeling
no pain. Unfortunately, the chickens felt
quite a lot of it, though. You have to
remember that some of these guys were
pretty sadistic anyway. Not to mention the
fact that everybody was already pissed off
at having to work that Friday night. We had
been promised the night off, but they changed
their minds that Tuesday, and we had to work.
So, with them all liquored up, whatever normal
inhibitions were left flew out the window. A
little Puerto Rican guy (Oscar) who was hanging
right next to me had definitely gotten his share
of the jug. He picked up a chicken and it sh*t
right in his face. He said a couple of cuss words
in Spanish (that I won't repeat on here in either
language) grabbed the chicken by its head, and
threw it into the exhaust fan located above and
in front of the hangers.
Well, you can imagine the mess that made.
It made a few other guys mad. So, one of them
grabbed up a chicken, reached over there, and
slapped Oscar upside the head with it. That made
Oscar mad, so he grabbed one of the birds
that I had just hung on the line, jerked its
head off and threw it at the guy who had hit
him with the chicken.
Well, he missed his intended target and hit the
guy on the other side of him. That guy came and
hit Oscar right in the nose and broke it. And
that was the end of that as far as Oscar throwing
a fit went. He just went home.
But, in the process of all that going on, there
were quite a few empty shackles going out, as
you can imagine. This got Richard's attention
downstairs. So, he came back there and called
2nd break 20 minutes early so that he could
scream at everyone.
Up to this point, nobody but the hangers had
known anything about the alcohol. But,
Richard decided he was thirsty. So, he got
himself a drink. Uh oh.......
The sh*t really hit the fan, then....
They took away our Gatorade and didn't bring
us anything back to drink. So, when we went
back to work, everybody was even madder than
before, but still quite drunk. Not a good thing.
The guy that had been in the killing room went
home after passing out and falling off his stool.
They found his knife down on front line buried
in a chicken's rectum all the way up to the handle.
The fat-breaker found it. That's how I found out
about that. He told me later, "Yeah, it looked like
the poor thing had done a sword-swallowing act
backwards." There were also quite a few "redbirds"
that night. (Those are the ones that are scalded
to death because their throats didn't get slit.)
Well, I have to admit that I had partaken heavily
of the jug myself, so I wasn't performing up to
my usual standards that night, either. In far
too many cases, the best I could do was to just
helplessly watch them go into the scalders alive.
I can't take all the blame for that, though, because
they were hung in all kinds of manner that night.
Many were hung by one wing, one leg, their head,
their neck, and even in some cases had two "one-
leggers" in a shackle together. It would have
been an impossible situation even if I had been
cold stone sober, which I admittedly was not.
It was total chaos.