Bob Herbert ("Where the Hogs Come First") visits the Smithfield pork plant in Tar Heel, NC. "This is a place where progress has slowed to a crawl," he says. His description of the brutal workplace might have come via Upton Sinclair.
Herbert: "It was depressing inside there," said Edward Morrison, who spent hour after hour flipping bloody hog carcasses on the kill floor, until he was injured last fall after just a few months on the job. "You have to work fast because that machine is shooting those hogs out at you constantly. You can end up with all this blood dripping down on you, all these feces and stuff just hanging off of you. It's a terrible environment."
More: Company officials will tell you everything is fine, but serious injuries abound, and the company has used illegal and, at times, violent tactics over the course of a dozen years to keep the workers from joining a union that would give them a modicum of protection and dignity...
...Workers at Smithfield and their families are suffering while the government dithers, refusing to require a mighty corporation like Smithfield to obey the nation's labor laws in a timely manner.
A century ago, Sinclair wrote: This government inspector did not have the manner of a man who was worked to death...This inspector wore a blue uniform, with brass buttons, and he gave an atmosphere of authority to the scene, and, as it were, put the stamp of official approval upon the things which were done in Durham's.