Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Secrets In Morristown

Every town, home, place can have secrets, can't they?

Here's a story by Kimberly Miller for the Tennessee Idependent Media Center published July 30 that has been kept quiet in the so-called news. (The TN Independent Media Center also has lots of info on the ongoing TnCare Sit-In Protest that has been lodged in the State Capitol Building for more than a month, which you can read here:

Seven Hundred and Fifty Poultry workers at two Koch Foods Plants have filed a petition for a Union Election in Morristown, Tennessee. Workers have been organizing for over a month despite intimidation and racism within the community. Most of the poultry workers in this area are Latino. On Sunday, local residents rallied in support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Over 200 workers and community members stood in solidarity.
Poultry Plants are notorious for violating workers’ rights. In January, the organization Human Rights Watch, issued a report on the dangers of working in the poultry industry. The report says Poultry plants exploit the vulnerabilities of a predominantly immigrant labor force and are Rife with unfair labor practices.

In November of 2004, The Morristown Poultry workers brought formal complaints before the Tennessee Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Workers complained of a lack of bathroom facilities and breaks and cited the company¹s failure to properly guard and lock-down dangerous equipment. In addition, workers were not trained in the safe use of the equipment.

Marta, a poultry worker from Hidalgo Mexico, believes that standing together is the only way conditions in the plant will improve :

“We're here because we have a big problem at Koch Foods & more than anything we¹re demanding our rights - We Want Support & We want to Support Others. We can't do this alone.”

The Latino community has recently faced opposition from the Vigilante Group the minutemen, and two County Commissioners. Many Morristown citizens are not pleased with the growing Latino population and believe immigrants are having a negative impact on the local economy.

Jobs with Justice, Interfaith Worker Justice, and other community groups were in attendance on Sunday to show the workers they were not alone in their struggle.Bill Troy, a member of Jobs with Justice, disagrees with local views of immigrants. He says A Latino presence can improve the local economy -

Bill Troy - "If People have better wages and better working conditions they have a bigger stake in the community and a lot of these other issues that are being talked about here , you know like schools and healthcare and so forth will take care of themselves the more people have better wages" -

Aside from attending the rally, citizens have been writing letters, attending workshops, and hosting workers in their congregations to show support .

So far, Koch Foods has been unreceptive to the workers' previous petitions but is expected to respond later this week.The UNION election could happen within 10 weeks.


  1. Other questions the reported could have asked;
    How many workers are illegal?
    Do illegals deserve the same protections and benifits as a US citizen and who is to pay for it if the answer is yes?
    Does being illegal lend itself to bad working conditions?
    Will the problems persist if the employer is not penalized for hiring known illegals?
    Has the American welfare system created these postions for legals and illegals?
    Drumstick for your thoughts!

  2. I saw no mention in the report of ANY illegal aliens seeking safety standards and fair labor practices. The story did mention immigrants.
    Your questions are certainly important questions to ask the Administrations of Koch Foods, or the INS, or perhaps your Congressman Bill Jenkins, especially regarding how the U.S. welfare system works. Jenkins was busy approving CAFTA last week, insuring zero protections for American or Latin American jobs.
    Why on earth would an illegal immigrant seek the attention of govenment regulators liks TOSHA?
    Why, in a series of TWELVE reports in the local media did they never discover local employers who actively seek illegal immigrants, provide fake documents, rent out substandard housing, etc etc etc.
    I guess a lot of folks are expecting the local chapter of Vigilantes to handle all these questions.
    Oh, and if you do have a job, NEVER ask questions about your rights. You might get fired.
    I appreciate your comments, and hope my response was worth the drumstick!

  3. Hey Joe (sorry this comment is after-the fact, but I am reading to catch up on your articles).

    My father was dismissed from his job of 30 years with Pill-lips/Magot-box as they moved to Mexico, and he went to work for the poltry processer on Morris Blvd. He said he was supprised that that kind of workplace was even in America much less our town.

    At least we had free chicken that had smashed bones (the ones that got crushed in the machines) to eat. Thanks NAFTA/CAFTA and all the greedy bastards who screw the very people they call customers.