Smithfield Pork’s Got Problems
If Smithfield Foods, which I wrote about in an earlier post, rang a bell, it may be because the company has recently gotten some bad press for its troubled labor relations. The problems are heating up with the company’s latest announcement that it’s closing six plants and cutting 1,800 jobs.
In March, a local chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America filed labor charges against Smithfield in Virginia, claiming the company has refused to bargain with the union as the company plans to close down one of its hometown plants and transfer some workers to other sites. LIUNA filed more charges in April.
This is hardly the first time Smithfield has had labor conflicts. In 2007, unions charged that Smithfield collaborated with immigration authorities who led an immigration raid at its huge North Carolina pork-packing plant. Union officials said Smithfield was trying to discourage its workers from organizing.
Still, nothing tops this 2006 Rolling Stone story about Smithfield, which claims that “America’s top pork producer churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history.”
As Rolling Stone put it: “Welcome to the dark side of the other white meat.”
If the suspicions about Smithfield’s pig waste being the source of the swine flu pandemic pan out, the company’s reputation may soon get even darker.