Tyson Foods has a pretty ugly reputation as a hard-nosed, nasty employer. There is a very ugly strike underway at the the company's Lakeside Packers plant in Brooks, Alberta. As the UFCW reports, "Approximately 2,300 workers were forced on strike by Tyson Foods at the company’s Lakeside Packers plant in Brooks, Alberta, on Wednesday, October 12.
"These workers, many of them refugees from Sudan and
Somalia and immigrants from Nigeria, have been attacked on the picket
line and subjected to racist jeers. Three were sent to the hospital
after being beaten and left writhing in a ditch beside the road. Tyson
officials have been charged for reckless endangerment after running the
UFCW Local 401 president’s car off the road."
I don't normally report on every strike here but the words "Tyson Foods" reminded me of an interesting political connection. One of the forgotten roles Tyson Foods played is as a patron to the Clintons: It was James Blair, the chief outside counsel for Tyson Foods, who oversaw the commodities trades for Hillary Clinton when she invested about $1,000 and in just 10 months cleared an astonishing $100,000. Not bad. And Tyson Foods' head honcho, Don Tyson, raised several hundred thousand dollars for Bill Clinton's political races.
Here are some other relevant points:
- Black workers make up approximately 70 percent of the workforce. A quarter of the entire workforce is refugees from Sudan; other workers come from Somalia and Nigeria.
- Workers are seeking basic protection such as an end to harassment, improved safety training, and better handling of biological hazards “I begged to use the washroom and my boss said “No”, so I ended up wetting myself and standing in my own urine for the rest of the work shift. Later I was disciplined for filing a complaint about what happened.” - Godwin Iwanegba, Lakeside Packers employee
- Tyson’s brutal attacks on the picket lines fuel solidarity across the continent. Members of UFCW local unions across the continent are rallying to support their striking brothers and sisters in Alberta, Canada. As a first step, the local unions plan to raise money and to sponsor striking families.
There's a lot more. Check out the story and the strike progress here.