Thursday, October 20, 2005

There Is Power In The Union

So there's a strike at a slaughterhouse in Alberta. The house is owned by Tyson foods, and the strikers are therefore by definition on the side of good. Believe me, read Fast Food Nation if you want an idea of how bad Tyson is.

But I've just finished watching CBC's piece on this whole affair, and I swear I've never seen anything more deliberately obtuse. The entire piece was presented with a kind of "oh, you silly strikers. When will you learn?" attitude that was a) insulting, and b) deliberately misleading. The alleged journalist involved kept refusing to actually explore what, for example, the workers might be striking for. Apparently Google has yet to make it to the offices of the CBC:
As the temperature begins to cool here in the United States, a bitter and brutal cold has crept into the air surrounding the Tyson beef plant in Brooks, Alberta, Canada. More than 2,300 workers, many of them workers who are refugees from the Sudan, have been forced onto the streets and onto picket lines in a battle to preserve a decent standard of living. Tyson is leaving workers and their families out in the cold, again.

Workers at the Brooks plant stood up for a voice with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401 in August, 2004, eager for basic workplace protections such as an end to harassment, improved safety training, and better handling of biological hazards. More than 600 Sudanese immigrant workers were lured to Alberta with the promise of a good job and bright future. Tyson’s disregard for the basic safety needs of its workforce, immigrant and native, is reprehensible. Picket lines went up on October 12, 2005 after Tyson Foods threw out a proposal by a mediator appointed by the Alberta government to facilitate a first-contract agreement.
Because of the anti-union, anti-safety, and anti-human practices of Tyson foods and other meatpacking companies, meatpacking has gone from being one of the safer, better paying jobs in North America (at it's unionized height) to now being one of the lowest paying, most dangerous jobs. As if asking unskilled labour to work quickly with knives wasn't enough, Tyson's reputation is well known: once you're injured, you're out.

The CBC should be ashamed. Not for being anti-labour so soon after their own experience with the evil of management (though for that too.) And not for failing to represent the worker's side fairly (though for that too.) No, the CBC should be ashamed for allowing such a poorly-researched, poorly written piece of crap on the air without bothering to meet even the basic minimum standard for journalistic competence.

Boy, it didn't take long for that lockout to wear off, did it? Chumps.

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