Articles in regional publications that pertain to a wide range of North Carolina-related topics.
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The Triangle is home to thousands of domestic workers from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. These workers are now organizing in a growing movement to expose abuses and fighting for change.
Poultry is North Carolina’s biggest crop and many residents make a living in the poultry industry. However, many of those workers and farmers who supply the chickens claim the chickens are treated better by poultry companies than they are. Additionally, poultry is not as healthy as the American public believes as many are being exposed to millions of sick birds every year. The industry traps individuals in low paying jobs, exposes them to poor working conditions, and is endangering public health.
The effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement are discussed in detail. A focus of the article are the relocations of American manufacturing companies to Mexico. Schalge Lock Co. shut down its Rocky Mount, NC plant to move to Mexico and the companies workers are at a high risk for injury or illness associated with the company according to Joan Sharpe. Sharpe is a former Schlage worker and organizer with Black Workers for Justice.
The troubles with unions and workers’ rights at Smithfield’s hog processing plant in Bladen County are detailed. The company has fought the elections of union workers at the plant for years. The fast pace of the processing line has been another problem for workers as there are frequent injuries. Workers from the plant discuss the company’s poor and unsafe working environment.
The state’s politicians have let Smithfield Packing abuse workers in Tar Heel, and it is time both groups clean up their mess. Smithfield needs to improve working conditions and allow its workers to unionize. The company also needs to improve its plant’s safety, support training and education programs for immigrant Hispanic workers, and stop supporting hog farms which pollute the area water supply. State politicians need to pressure the meatpacker to make these changes to protect workers and the state’s environment.
Linda Mabry is the winner of a 1992 Independent Citizen Award. Mabry is an organizer for the NC Occupational Safety and Health department. Mabry’s goal is to fight for the rights of workers to have safe, healthy workplaces. She recently created the Injured Workers’ Network to provide a source of solidarity and support for people who have been hurt on the job.