<$BlogRSDUrl$> 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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Hellhole Gets More Hellish 

I heard a few interesting things that have been going on at the Grannis plant lately. It sounds like it has gone from bad to very bad to even worse than that since I left.

They were going to add a hanger to the line so that they could turn the line speed up, which they did - up to 210 a minute - but the problem is that they didn't ever hire that extra hanger. So, you can imagine what effect that has had on the workers. One night, around Halloween, they threw 15 people at that line, most of them from debone that had no idea what they were doing and only received debone pay for doing it. They apparently won't (or can't) hire another permanent hanger to work full-time back there. It does no good to just keep throwing inexperienced people at the line to catch all those empty shackles all the other inexperienced people can't get hung. When you get that many people crammed in there in that little room trying to hang those birds, all they do is get in each others' way. It doesn't really help anything. And it actually makes it worse on the few experienced hangers that may be there. Then they can't do their job as well, either because all of these people are in their way, reaching over them, and just generally keeping messing every ting up and preventing them from being as efficient as they can be and otherwise would be.

According to the person I talked to, there are only two regular experienced hangers back there right now (one of which I tried to train before I left and who wasn't that great at the job because he had too much of a temper). The rest of the folks back there have basically been pulled from debone and don't know what they are doing.

They have made absolutely no changes to the setup in the killing room. It is still set up to where it was back when the line speed was 140. It didn't work very well when I worked there, with the line running from 182-186 birds per minute. I can just about imagine what it is like at 210.

I was told that the machine is now missing more than it is hitting. So, that means that the killer has to do a good bit of the work. I can tell you for a fact that two killers working at it couldn't take up that much slack. That's just too many, so there are no doubt a lot more being scalded alive. It is just a mess.

It has gotten bad enough that they are even offering bonuses for people to go in there and kill, and still nobody wants to do it. The bonus is pretty substantial, amounting to almost a dollar more an hour to do it, but they are still not wanting to do it because it isn't worth it to them That should tell you something of just how bad this is.

The new female supervisor that took over is doing about what I figured. Not much. I have heard that she is really pretty young, right out of Tyson's training school and that this is her first post. This is nothing new. Grannis gets a good bit of the new people. But, apparently she hasn't really taken the time to learn much about the jobs those guys are doing on back dock and just does what the folks on top tell her to do. About the same as always, in other words.

Now, you are probably asking yourself how it can possible make sense for Tyson to throw all those extra debone people at that line rather than get one full-time hanger. I will attempt to explain how all of this works.

First off, you have to understand the Tyson pay scale. It goes from job class 1-6, with one as the lowest and six as the highest, as far as pay goes. Debone is a class 1 job. As you get closer to back dock, the classes get higher and the pay gets higher. Back dock is the highest, at a class 6 job. Classes 2-6 they staff with exactly the number of people they need for each job, even knowing that there will be a few every night that won't show up. Sometimes, like in the case of back dock, where the rat of attrition is so high, they don't even staff completely full and keep only the bare minimum skeletal crew back there. Many times they don't fully staff back dock, not immediately hiring a new hanger when one leaves. They instead over-staff debone by 20-30%, which locks their pay at job class 1, not much above minimum wage. Then they use the spillover people to staff the vacant positions in the higher job class positions, with them still earning class 1 pay every shift, thus saving a lot of money overall. They call this "farming them out"

They even put a poor debone guy in the killing room one night. He had never done it, had no idea what he was doing, and yet they put him in there all by himself to do the job. That is dangerous for him. It really takes an experienced killer back there to do that job. You have to have an eye for it that knows how to spot the ones that need cutting as they are flying by, not to mention the fact that you have to be able to cut them and do it properly. To train a new person to kill, an experienced killer has to be there, helping them learn. You spend the first week in there, not really trying to teach them anything, just getting them to watch the line. That's usually when they go through the motion sickness phase. They couldn't cut anything if they wanted to. They will just be puking their guts out (and the puke goes into the drain with the rest of the waste to be made into animal feed). I have seen most people go through that. I did. Some never make it past that. There is no way someone who has never done it can go in there and do that job anywhere near properly. It would be even worse at that higher speed because the cuts would have to be even more precise than before. Without that perfect cut, leading to the fastest bleed-out time, at that higher speed, they wouldn't bleed out and be dead in time before hitting the scalder. They need a very good killer down there now, even more than ever before. Well, I know one experienced killer that won't do it for them, even if they wanted me to (which I am sure they don't - they would probably have me arrested if I showed up down there! Ha ha ha!)

Can you see that if you get 4 or 5 of them on back dock at one time, and the department then has all of the positions filled for the night, they are still running under-budget for their department because their department isn't paying a hanger, yet the same number of people (or more) is back there? Most of the debone people don't even realize that they are being taken advantage of like that. Of the ones who do and make a stink about it, they just get fired. Usually, it just leads to a lot of frustration and anger on everybody's part. The debone people don't know what they are doing and can't keep up and do a really good job, so that frustrates them, especially if they get yelled at for it. Then the regular hanging crew gets upset because these debone hands get in the way, don't get all of their shackles hung, and the regulars have to take up the slack and hang the missed shackles or they get yelled at themselves.

In the end, all of this leads to low morale, a high attrition rate, worse overall job performance, and the chickens suffer even more horribly than normal.

Man, it just keeps getting worse down there...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Meese Release! 

The little baby mice we saved have now been released successfully into the woods to live out their little lives. There was only one problem, though. There were supposed to be four of them, but only three were in the cage when we took them out to release them. That left two possibilities of what might have happened - escape or death and cannibalism (horrible, but it happens, and one had been observed having what looked to be a seizure one day).

I had that question answered for sure last night.

Just as Laura and I settled in for the night and were turning off the light, we heard sounds. Little rustling sounds. Then a kind of a "tch...tch...tch..." sound. Coming from a stack of my clothes...

We intend to borrow one of Laura's mother's live traps to try to reunite the little one with its siblings. Hopefully this will happen before I have to walk around worrying about being accused of indecent exposure. ;)

Moving right along, I have to say that Laura and I have been having a lot of discussion over the past week or so, both with each other and with friends and family, over the effects this election will have on not only our country, but the whole rest of the world that had no vote in what direction their lives were taken.

Although things look a bit bleak in a lot of ways, innumerable ways, there is also a beacon of hope out there. I have been passing around a wonderful article written by Mark Morford. From the overwhelmingly positive feedback I have gotten from this sharing (some were even moved to tears), I continue to have hope that the progressive and compassionate community of true patriots will ultimately prevail. It's just that the long road will be a bit longer and harder to tread than we would have liked. "We the people" need to come together and make changes.

Sigh...

Well, we never thought it would be easy, now did we? How many of us haven't longed at one time or another, even just briefly, how blissful it was to be among the sheeple, unaware and going about your busy little life, totally unconcerned about the many horrors of the world. Back when we thought we couldn't do anything about it anyway, so why worry?

Of course, that's impossible now. You can't just unlearn something. And for those of us who have awoken to just how important this fight for our world is, as tired as we may get, as discouraged and disappointed as we may feel after all of this, we can't exactly just give up, now can we?

How do you look your child or grandchild in the eye, shrug your shoulders, and say, "Well, I tried, but it was too hard. Sorry." Nope. Most of us can't even conceive of doing that, as tempting as it may be at times when you feel yourself wondering why in the hell you keep fighting against such odds.

The stakes are just too important.

And, you know, all may not be lost anyway. Have any of you been reading about the huge amount of voter irregularities in this election? Areas with vast majorities of registered Democratic voters showing Bush winning in a landslide. More votes cast than registered voters in some places! The tallies not matching what the exit polls say? I mean, when you ask people as they walk out of the door who they voted for and the results show something so completely different, you know there is a problem. There are others, but those are the biggies.

And, what makes it so very disturbing is that in each one of these cases, it not only benefited Bush, but also only appears to have only occurred where those optical scanners were used and where there is no paper trail. Equipment manufactured by someone who publicly declared that he would do whatever it takes to put Bush back in the White House!

I have been keeping up with what has been discussed on the various political blogs about this, especially Glen Reynolds and Keith Olbermann. Bloggers are certainly working their way into becoming a force to be reckoned with. However, I have to agree that if a blogger is writing something as fact, especially something uncovered through investigation and that is likely to be extremely controversial, maybe even criminal, they definitely need to back up these writings with referenced facts. Preferably using a source that most people would consider to be credible and without any bias at all. Even better when you can use your "enemy's" own facts and documents against them on top of that (as I often do, he he).

If there has been election fraud, if Bush has once again stolen the White House through corporate and political dirty tricks, to my way of thinking this is treason and should be treated as such. Don't let anyone get away with simply resigning in shame, paying a fine, or any other similar slap on the wrist. Oh, no. If there can be shown that there was a conspiracy to overthrow the will of the people and take over our government (industry is good at hostile takeovers, aren't they? And we also have those in government who are pretty good at political overthrows, too. Can't forget that, either...), let there be no mercy for those guilty. Make an example out of them and all of those who had anything at all to do with it, even those that may have just looked the other way and kept quiet.

Something like that should be taken very seriously.

Because, my friends, if we cannot even manage to conduct a proper democracy that is actually "by the people, for the people," in a credible way, well then, how can we credibly hope to "instill democracy" any other place on the world? And who would want it if this is what they got?

This isn't a Republican versus Democratic argument. This isn't "left versus right." It isn't even an "us versus them" fight, exactly, unless you consider the "us" to be the American people as a whole, without regard to party affiliation or religion or anything else. It's about making sure that our country has not been the victim of a hostile takeover.

By ANYONE.

For ANY reason.

Again, to me, that is treason.
Posted by: # Virgil / 10:34 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Please Tell Me It Is All a Bad Dream 

For all of you coming here to see my reaction to the election, well, it just makes me sick. If you want to know how I really feel, then read Mark Morford's column this morning. He's much better art putting this into words than I could ever do.

I had a cheery post I have been working on for the past week or so that I have never finished putting together and posting. Yeah, I know. But, I have been very busy. If you are on of the almost 300 people that has joined my Activist Against Factory Farming groups, then you know how much time I have spent just doing the research and keeping up with posting all of the articles on factory farming there.

I have also been doing a lot more direct hands-on activism than before. I'll write more about all of this when my mood isn't so bad. Today, I think I will just turn this box off and get out in the woods and burn some brush. It's finally quit raining here now, although it's still very wet.

I have a lot more thoughts on this election and what we can do in this movement. But, again, that will hold for another day.
Posted by: # Virgil / 3:25 PM 0 comments Links to this post

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