Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Deen to face Justice at Smithfield

Smithfield Justice

Heres a good chance to help workers achieve humane working conditions.

  Event: Justice at Smithfield Paula Deen Informational Demonstration
  Date: Saturday, June 2, 2007
  Where: CenturyTel Center in Bossier City, LA
  Time: Meet at 2:30 p.m.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen appears at CenturyTel Center Saturday with a show to promote her books, cooking show and other financial interests.

Deen endorses Smithfield Foods. She said she partnered with Smithfield because “it shared my family values and traditions.”

The truth about Smithfield is a little different.

Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world, the fourth largest turkey processor and the fifth largest beef processor in the U.S. It is headquartered in the town of Smithfield, VA, but its operations stretch across the United States, Mexico, and much of Europe.

In the early 1990s, Smithfield opened its 975,000 square-foot pork slaughter plant in the town of Tar Heel, in Bladen County, North Carolina. This facility is now the single largest pork processing plant in the world.

Smithfield treats its Tar Heel plant workers worse than dogs.

They are forced to work under harsh circumstances. Fast line speeds, inadequate training, and improper safety procedures in the plant all lead to a dangerous workplace. As workers try to stand up to Smithfield and organize a union to fight for basic rights and dignities on the job, they are met with brutal force and harassment at the hands of Smithfield.

Smithfield has even been cited by Human Rights Watch for violating international human rights standards. Smithfield Packing has created an environment of intimidation, racial tension, and sometimes violence for workers who want a voice on the job.

But workers are fighting back.

When Deen comes to town, the UFCW, the union that represents many Smithfield workers, will be there, too.

UFCW organizer Nazey Gulech is here working with my union, SEIU Local 100, other unions and local religious and community organizations to organize an informational demonstration in front of CenturyTel the day of the show. We'll hand out flyers and hold up signs telling Deens fans the truth about the company she supports so whole-heartedly.

A worker from the Tar Heel plant will also be on hand to share her story. She and another person will enter the event and seek to ask Deen to accept a letter from the plants workers. The letter asks her to withdraw her endorsement of Smithfield.

Youll be able to hear Nazey on KSCL 91.3 at around 6:30 p.m. Shes also speaking at 7:00 Thursday evening at the West Edge Artists Co-Op. She may be featured on Red River Radio during Morning Edition Friday. And theres an article about the campaign in this week’s Shreveport Sun.

We need warm bodies at CenturyTel! It will be a peaceful event that supports justice for the workers at the Spring Heel plant. Please attend.

At the very least, dont buy products from the Tar Heel plant. Products from the Smithfield Tar Heel plant are coded 18079. Bacon is usually 79-C.

Here are some websites for more in-depth information:

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