My brother David sent me this link which talks about just how horrible it is to work in a poultry factory. When you're cutting into a chicken 20,000 times a day, it's no surprise that you'd be subject to serious carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, but you also might be risking both life and limb. This has been going on for decades, and yet in past years these poor working conditions stopped being part of the public record. The reason is explained by an interviewee on a recent PBS special on this very subject:
AMES ALEXANDER: There used to be a column on injury logs where companies were supposed to record all repetitive motion injuries. Uh, and this essentially gave OSHA inspectors a very quick idea of how common repetitive motion problems like carpal tunnel, like tendonitis, were. Uh, and then, uh, under pressure, uh, from the industry, OSHA removed that column.
(OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
The Charlotte Observer did a lot of coverage on this group of workers back in February. They note that over 80% of poultry workers in the Carolinas are Latino, and the majority of those are here illegally, and not in a position to officially complain about sub-par working conditions.
Although my brother correctly assessed that I'd be interested from a Workin' It standpoint, I don't think he is aware that reading about such conditions in poultry factories in a 1989 New York Times article is what prompted me to become a vegetarian, which I still am to this day. Back then, I was so horrified by both the working conditions for humans and the living conditions for the animals that I decided to sever my association with the poultry industry by no longer eating their food. Another reason was, back then, the use of antibiotics on these birds was rampant, although this practice has been somewhat phased out. This overuse led to one strain of bacteria, Campylobacter, commonly found in chickens' intestines, to become resistant to antibiotics, and led to a subsequent massive increase in the presence of this bacteria, which was passed on to humans eating this contaminated poultry. (Which is why everyone is always so concerned about cleaning everything a raw chicken touches.) In 2001 this stuff sickened one percent of the (U.S. human) population per year. This overuse of antibiotics has also seriously contributed to their ineffectiveness in a general sense.
I was planning on posting something upbeat today, since it's Monday. Sorry about that. If you don't work in a poultry plant, you can take solace from that. And, if you do, you have my sympathy.