[Marxism] Fwd: Exploitation and Abuse at the Chicken Plant - The New Yorker

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 1 13:42:08 MDT 2017

By late afternoon, the smell from the Case Farms chicken plant in 
Canton, Ohio, is like a pungent fog, drifting over a highway lined with 
dollar stores and auto-parts shops. When the stink is at its ripest, it 
means that the day’s hundred and eighty thousand chickens have been 
slaughtered, drained of blood, stripped of feathers, and carved into 
pieces—and it’s time for workers like Osiel López Pérez to clean up. On 
April 7, 2015, Osiel put on bulky rubber boots and a white hard hat, and 
trained a pressurized hose on the plant’s stainless-steel machines, 
blasting off the leftover grease, meat, and blood.

A Guatemalan immigrant, Osiel was just weeks past his seventeenth 
birthday, too young by law to work in a factory. A year earlier, after 
gang members shot his mother and tried to kidnap his sisters, he left 
his home, in the mountainous village of Tectitán, and sought asylum in 
the United States. He got the job at Case Farms with a driver’s license 
that said his name was Francisco Sepulveda, age twenty-eight. The 
photograph on the I.D. was of his older brother, who looked nothing like 
him, but nobody asked any questions.

Osiel sanitized the liver-giblet chiller, a tublike contraption that 
cools chicken innards by cycling them through a near-freezing bath, then 
looked for a ladder, so that he could turn off the water valve above the 
machine. As usual, he said, there weren’t enough ladders to go around, 
so he did as a supervisor had shown him: he climbed up the machine, onto 
the edge of the tank, and reached for the valve. His foot slipped; the 
machine automatically kicked on. Its paddles grabbed his left leg, 
pulling and twisting until it snapped at the knee and rotating it a 
hundred and eighty degrees, so that his toes rested on his pelvis. The 
machine “literally ripped off his left leg,” medical reports said, 
leaving it hanging by a frayed ligament and a five-inch flap of skin. 
Osiel was rushed to Mercy Medical Center, where surgeons amputated his 
lower leg.

Back at the plant, Osiel’s supervisors hurriedly demanded workers’ 
identification papers. Technically, Osiel worked for Case Farms’ closely 
affiliated sanitation contractor, and suddenly the bosses seemed to care 
about immigration status. Within days, Osiel and several others—all 
underage and undocumented—were fired.


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