Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: It Was Oil, All Along | Main | Policies To Save Our Planet? »

Ask the Reporters: EXPOSÉ on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL

This week, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL collaborated with EXPOSÉ: AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS to tell the story of several journalists investigating working conditions in poultry plants.

We thank reporters Franco Ordoñez, Kerry Hall and Ames Alexander for taking time to answer your questions about the story. We will post their responses next week.


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/1604

Comments

I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

How is honest investigative journalism rewarded, Charlotte Observer employees? How will it be, being combined with the Raleigh News and Observer? More layoffs following the heavy response to the April buyout offer (early retirement) seems extreme to me. McClatchy will soon be a skeleton crew with some articles (about local events) written in India from press releases. Would you recommend new journalism grads get their big break in India? (Couldn't repay student loans... Would be competing against non-degreed Indians trained for free in 2 weeks)

Your story is a good reason to stop eating chicken. Reckon somebody out there ate a fingertip: um, delicious, tastes like pork. It has been my experience that OSHA has never been enforced. I remember the only time the guards were on the saws in the wooden window plant where I worked in the 70s during college was when the heads up call came for an inspection. I remember keeping an ice bucket in the break room fridge in case lost digits might be reattached (most weren't).
One guy was forced to return to work after his thub was nearly severed in a table saw. He sat in the cutting room 4 weeks until he got a crooked (N.C.) workman's compensation lawyer who sold him out for a bribe. Willy became a drunk, fished all day in polluted waters, finally died in a one car crash (probably suicide). I don't care where poultry workers were born, what their first language may be, or if "their papers are in order." All workers need a living wage and safe conditions. Americans have become so complacent (Stockholm syndrome relationship with elites?) that it will probably take our Hispanic working friends to revive unions. Once they're here working we're all in the same boat.
Ah chicken crap; enjoy your "inexpensive" chicken
fajita. Just spit out the fingernails.

This story was ridiculously stupid. You can't talk about poultry plants and plant violations without addressing the WHOLE IMMIGRATION PROBLEM, and shedding a few bleeding-heart tears for "undocumented immigrants" just doesn't cut it. Poultry jobs used to be a ticket to the middle class when they were located in big cities and staffed by people who spoke English, knew their rights, and couldn't be deported. Now the plants are out in the middle of nowhere and staffed mostly by illegal aliens who are sitting ducks to be exploited.

Close the borders, open these jobs to REAL AMERICANS (there are plenty suffering in america's ghettoes), and these abuses won't happen in the dark anymore. But pretending that this is a problem with Bush's appointees and not our whole rotten system comes dangerously close to being an outright lie.

The perversion of OSHA’s purpose, from being a regulatory agency designed to protect workers to a tool to serve greedy corporate interests is another example of the shameful Bush legacy. OSHA head Foulke, like Labor Secretary Chao, a former Bank of America executive and member of the conservative think-tank, Heritage Foundation, has a blatantly anti-worker agenda, is a totally inappropriate choice to head this agency and makes a bitter mockery of its function. This agency is a disgrace and an insult to the more than 50, 000 workers injured yearly on the job and to the families of the more than 5000 workers killed yearly due to unsafe work conditions.

My brother, Gary Puleio, http://garypuleio.blogspot.com was killed on the job at a concrete plant on August 15, 2001. He had been employed there only 3 months as a non-union cement truck driver and fell 25 feet to his death, from a cement tower, while shoveling gravel off the hopper to clean it. The company claimed Gary just wandered up there on his own, without wearing any safety equipment, at the end of his driving shift rather than being assigned this dangerous task because he was the “new man”.

OSHA accepted this implausible story and after admitting no wrong doing, the company paid a $6000 fine for REPEAT violations for not posting danger signs at a confined space and not implementing measures to prevent unauthorized entry. This company had multiple serious violations issued only months before Gary was killed which were informally settled with reduced fines. Corporations routinely “negotiate” with OSHA to downgrade fines through a process called “abatement. ” Aggrieved families of dead workers have no such access to OSHA, face hurdles in obtaining information under the Freedom of Information Act, have their concerns condescendingly dismissed and ultimately are told that no further action can be taken once 6 months have passed since the “alleged violation.
Details of Gary Puleio's case at http://garypuleio.blogspot.com

Do you think there is a systemic pattern of corporate cronyism in the Bush White House when it comes to both worker safety and public health? The last two Expose programs (on BPA and poultry worker safety) might be just a foreboding of greater things to come.
For example, I have researching obesity for two years. America is serious trouble. Our fate dances on the edge of a knife. A very reliable source told me: Coca Cola was underwriting the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute’s public awareness campaign Women and heart disease: Red Dress and the Heart Truth promos.
Link:http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/hearttruth
For health researchers this relationship is a very intimidating nutri-wash. Money talks louder than the truth. It also raises question about the public cost of food industry externalities. The health care cost due to obesity is $220 billion dollars and rising … what make is this worse is a trans-generational response to poor nutrition. Obesity has maintained it's slow relentless pace because policies have not changed.
The life and health of 70 million people is at risk and this White House is morally blind.

Mr. Moyer,

I have highest regards for your quality of journalism and your high standard for its integrity. Please keep up the great work and thank you so much for your dedication to humanity. If anyone deserves the Medal of Freedom, it would be YOU!

Dear Mr. Moyers, I noticed that you did not publish my letter in your journal today. I refer to the one copied below that I sent to you yesterday. What was wrong with my letter? You published others?

Thank you,

Gloria

Mr. Moyers,
In watching your story on injuries to workers in the poultry industry late last week, I was appalled at the terrible animal cruelty and torture of the chickens. Chickens have the intelligence of a three-year-old child. These sensitive animals start their young lives by having their beaks and toes cut off. Many hemorrhage from the de-beaking. After the tips of their toes and their beaks are cut off, they must endure terrible pain for the rest of their short lives. They are placed in coops where they can never open their wings. Then, to watch what happens in the slaughterhouses, where their feathers are plucked out, and they are hung upside down by their ankles alongside their fellow chickens, as they cry out in terror awaiting their decapitation, is horrifying. How would humans wish to be treated in this way by such monsters? Why did your journal not zero in on this travesty of injustice in the real story here of animal torture? That's the story I want to see--the one that asks why Congress allows these billionaire companies to engage in horrific acts of cruelty to animals unchecked. Why should this be allowed simply because people eat these animals. We don't allow cruelty to dogs or cats. Why is it legal to treat farm animals in this way that totally denigrates the value of their lives?! Please cover stories about the cruelties perpetrated on farm animals. Thank you!

Hanks for a great investigative job.

The video segments of struggling live chickens being hung up to be killed; and then their dead bodies dismantled made me even more resolute not to eat meat. Every time I see a piece of chicken in the market or on a plate, I will remember those videos, in addition to what I already knew about the horrific things that are done to them while they are alive.

About your reports in general. I think, if you are hoping they will generate action, you should perhaps suggest ways to take action, or have comment areas dedicated to this.

Also you could have an online database or reference section or something. Instead of publishing comments (even mine) or blogs, have people send in links where they have found information they think is eye-opening; then, winnow through them and post them. You would need staff who are both for and against to pick the two or three which best present each point of view.

Watched your program on injuries in the poultry industry and realized that this is happening in most industries. After thirty years as an auto worker in Canada I saw striking similarities between what has happened in the U.S., and what is happening here in Canada in so many industries. You have only touched the surface of a very touchy subject and one that will only get worse. Thanks for making a difference and trying to help ordinary working people without all the hyperbole, just sound facts and common sense.

Return to work programs should benefit both the injured worker and the employer, and not just the employer and insurer at the expense of the injured worker's physical and mental well being and safety in the workplace.

In the case of these poultry line workers, return to work happens to mean immediately after surgery, even if you're now missing a body part or two and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

I also agree with the post by Sharon that someone needs to investigate the ACOEM guidelines and other occupational guidelines, which are written by "company doctors". This problem goes far beyond OSHA-gate.

The decisions by OSHA to remove the requirement for reporting repetitive stress injuries, as well as trashing Clinton's workplace ergonomics regulations were gifts to industry, plain and simple. Bush and his cronies see their allegiance as being to business rather than workers. In the case of the poultry plant workers, the effect of these decisions has been to pad the bottom line of the poultry industry by the millions saved in workers comp rates and also keeping OSHA out of the plants. What sickens me is that these millions in extra profits have gone to executives and shareholders, and most certainly not the workers, who Raeford lauds, while screwing them. Like many other industries in Bush World, extra profits have gone to executives and shareholders and not workers, putting this time in stark contrast to others since WWII, where extra profits were shared by management and workers alike, giving workers a stake in the company. The obscene overcompensation and undercompensation is a disgrace. " Reagan Democrats " are starting to realize how badly they are being screwed by the economic nonsense of the GOP. They are a useful tool, but will never be allowed into the country club.
B ( owell ) M ( ovement ) Twin must be pretty heavily into the Kool Aid to spew such nonsense. What part about reporting on workers being maimed ,and an industry that profits from their misery is crap. The Democracy of the internet means that half-wits are free to post their ill informed gibberish right next to the informed dialog that promotes a stronger America.

Big Oil: BRAVO BILL MOYERS!

You all should read Vincent Bugliosi`s new book, "The Prosecution of George W Bush For Murder." I heard that Obama & McCain have their own agendas with big corporate interests behind them. In in one way the some democrats and republicans are doing the same with their interests but two faced saying their real interest is for the people. Isn´t it about time for Americans to grow-up and face their problems and seek real solutions instead of dreaming about the good old days being Numbero Uno for decades and decades. The greed has hit home and middle-class & poor Americans are paying for it.

I can´t remember who said it, "You can judge the nation by the government´s treatment of its people."

When time allows I sit down to watch Bill Moyers and am always grateful. Two issues for me:
1. Of course his ankle was repaired 'with screws' that is how that type of fracture is repaired. The reporters revealed either manipulation of their audience or ignorance when they presented this as if it was abberant.
2. While you are all horified at the conditions at poultry plants I would like to know who among you are avoiding buying meat from these sources or what you all are willing to pay for food so that fair and safe practices would be the norm. Americans are spoiled by abundant supply of cheap food of all varieties. When will we grow up and realize we are all at fault here. It is much easier to blame an industry or a government agency and remain blissfully ignorant and self righteous.

I want to apologize for the long post I put on about getting injured on the job. It's very hard for me to quell the frustration and anger that has developed because of being put through all of this; being in a lot of pain doesn't help at all either.

I am very sincere when I ask for help breaking through this hell with DOL, and federal agencies so I can get treated and back on with any kind of life, and back to work again. They truly have spent more money on time loss, etc. than it would have cost to get me fixed and back to work.

If anyone can help, I can be contacted at: barcag58@centurytel.net

Again, thank you for allowing my voice to be heard; and help that anyone can offer.

Best Wishes,
Barbara Caggiano

After watching your story on the U.S. DOL; I am now convinced that whole agency needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up!

How can I go about getting someone to see the plight of Federal Workers who can't seem to get representation; and are one of the many TSA workers injured on the job. We don't have, what I now call the luxury of dealing with state labor and industries. The DOL doesn't pay their bills, therefore many doctors don't want to treat federally injured workers. Even my own personal physicial said that if I hadn't been an established patient that she would never have agreed to see me for my Federal injury.

As I have been able to get in and see doctors, treatment for my injury has been denied. The treatment that was authorized, took the doctors months if not over a year to collect on.

I complained to my Washington State Senator, because of the amount of time it was taking DOL to authorize or deny treatments; it took months to get responses from DOL. Because of this, I was tossed into Vocational Rehabilitation, which consisted of me being told that I had 90 days to find a job.

I again went back to my Senator, because again the time factor involved with not authorizing or denying treatment in a timely manner. This time my time loss was cut to $140 per month. As a single parent, my teenage son and I are now living in a one room apartment. All my doctor can do for me at this point is refill prescriptions.

I finally got a referral to an orthopedist for another opinion; he recommended surgery. I again complained to my Senator because of the length of time with no response from DOL regarding the authorization. DOL sent me almost 300 miles for a second opinion which denied the surgery; they are now refusing to pay for the trip (just mileage) I am not even billing them for other expenses related to the trip. Their reason for not paying for the trip is that it wasn't preauthorized. They made the appointment! There is a city close by to me where I could have gone for a second opinion; there is no one who can convince me that they weren't punishing me, again for speaking out. DOL wanted me to front the airline ticket, hotel, taxi and other expenses out of my pocket, which I don't have on a $140 per month time loss payment. I drove which took all the resources of money I had for that month. I even sold Plasma to make up what I was lacking.

I was fired from the TSA because I refused to quit, with the hope that I could finally get treated and back to work. I applied for retirement, which isn't going to consist of enough to live on. This was approved on September of 2007; and I have yet to see a penny of it. I am being stonewalled by that agency with phone calls not being returned. I would go to my Senator again for help, but I am scared to death of what will happen to me if I do.

I feel that lady's pain who was working in the poultry factory and got injured. The rage I feel is unbelievable that people in this country are being treated so badly and businesses, let alone the Federal Government is getting away with it.

I live in Washington State and have been as far as Wyoming to look for a job to keep a roof over our heads. No one is going to take a risk on me as long as I am still injured.

I loved my job, I didn't want to be injured, it happened in a split second. There is no quality of life. We would be homeless now if it weren't for the fact that my son is getting social security because his dad died. I read somewhere in the news that almost 25% of TSA workers were injured; and those are only the ones who filed claims. I was a good worker who was on the track up the ladder. I know many coworkers who were injured. These are legitimate injuries, and their lives are just as devastated as mine. All I want to do is work; I worked very hard at this job and had a great reputation there. Now I have a firing on my record; have lost almost 5 years with my son; and the future is looking very bleak as long as I stay in the condition I am in. I wasn't the only one in this house who got injured; the psychological injuries to my son are numerous, because of what we have been through.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I can break through this hell I find myself in, please let me know. DOL needs to be called on how they do business. I hear complaints all the time about the human rights abuses in China; we are doing the same thing to our own citizens!

Sorry this has been so long; I just wanted to note that I did call OSHA before getting injured about doing an inspection, and the fact that we were working out by the tarmacs with no hearing protection. I was told I would have to get someone higher up the ladder to complain.

Some American Dream, huh? All I want to do is get past this so I can get back to work.

Like I said... Bill is a jack ass and so are most of his guest for even associating with him. If it were up to him and his guests everyone living in the U.S. would pay $50/gal for gas, walk to work, and eat hay for a living. What a gray haired old fart.

Thank you Bill for your awesome show. Every week I am impressed, educated, grateful for the revelations you bring us!

Regarding our Department of Labor fixing its injury (and all labor) statistics and gutting our regulatory/safety agencies under Bush:

I wonder if many people know that DOL Secretary, Elaine Chao is in fact married to Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader.

This act of disturbing cronyism must be exposed as it explains alot.

(C-SPAN prints and sells (under $15) a book I cannot live without: 2008 U.S. Congressional Directory, 110th Congress, 2nd Session. Every home should have one and it should be available and used in all schools). This is where I discovered this fact.

Thank you again,

Dyanne

Bill is a jack ass and so are most of his guests and the people who report this crap with him for even associating with him. If it were up to him and his guests everyone living in the U.S. would pay $50/gal for gas, walk to work, and eat hay for a living. What a gray haired old fart.

I thank Bill Moyers for his comments on the ruthless exploitation of Big Oil which has cost the world so much.

Independently, I had collected information to the same effect long ago. It was rewarding to see that Bill Moyer is brave enough to expose the truth.

I'm fairly sure the USA is in for a genuine social and political revolution generated by the petroleum crisis. Structures of oppression and exploitation are going to fall, and it won't be the doing of any party but the product of very real needs and constraints.

The “plant nurse” was referred to several times. Part of the professional duty of the RN is to advocate for the patient and to act in the patient’s best interests. As described, at least some of the nursing actions in these reports constitute malpractice.

If the reporters visited the Departments of Nursing at their nearest Universities, I’ll bet you that some Department Chairs, professors of Public Heath Nursing, Industrial & Organizational Nursing, and nursing ethics would tell them precisely what professional standards and statutory injunctions have been violated.

I wish some of you guys would pursue this avenue. If health professionals are pressured to act on their obligations to their clients rather than in response to the demands of their employers, some injustices can be addressed from a novel angle. (Obviously, it would be a start on other health “industry” scandals as well.)

I mean you, too, Bill, not just the Charlotte Observer. How about it?

Sincerely,

David Bockoven, RN (ret.)

I saw your program on OSHA and then influence that Oil had on starting the war in Iraq. I was really impressed. You and your team are very courageous. Besides the story, among other things I loved the portrait photography. Please see my work above I would love to contribute in some way to your very important work.

again my website is http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertromano/

until later,

Robert Romano
310-739-7069

Dear Bill, what does July 4 stands for now? please do not skip next week; our lives will be so meaningless without the soul food provided by your program. Besides, what can be done to get rid of all those evils?

Great job I've been fighting for workers and their families ever since our 19 yr. old son was killed at a poultry plant in 1993 I have testified 7 time before the House and Senate, OSHA hates me and I/m proud of it. Our project FIGHT helps families of killed workers and we help injured workers as well, I have made many changes in OSHA and am trying to get a felony gharge for killing and employee, been trying since 1999 still keeping on, I will keep trying until I die Pat was worth it. You can check me out on Google type in Ron Hayes would like to talk with you about other OSHA issues. You can read my latest article in ISHN.com
search word ANGELS You can contact me @ rhfight@att.net or 251-990-8644 God Bless Ron Hayes

Great show! Yes, unfortunately, this is just the tip of the problem. The right to breathe and not be poisoned at work is another basic one. I got exposed to diesel fumes, pesticides and other toxins, and my Workers Comp case took 10 years! Meanwhile there was no correction of the problems.

Have you tried contacting Dr Hildegaard Staninger? She used to work for OSHA until , and I quote her, "they became whores to the industrys they were supposed to be regulating"

And do you have any intentions of carrying this investigation further into the collusion of OSHA , Dept of Labor deregulating, and other industrys hard hit like mining or others?
Thank You

Concerning the program on OSHA's short coming! I thought it was excellent but only the tiniest of scratches on the surface.If one had the time and means to look,I convinced this problem is prevalent nationwide and in all industies.I know the company I just retired from;being"on the clock", after experiencing an on the job injury was standard operating procedure!

Not at all surprised. Sickened, yes. Surprised, no.

I've been chewing through Fast Food Nation. Eric Schlosser writes in '02 the EXACT SAME TALE about (illegal) immigrants being used and abused in the poultry and meat packing companies. I love the quote about OSHA representing big biz and not John Q. Nothing will change until we see a change at the top in DC and even then big biz may buy the day. How anyone working at OSHA can sleep at night is beyond me.

Great gathering of info..Very HUMAN..Thanks..What if Americans loose their humanity and like Sen Inhofe,are so involved with their own interests that they are glad to have cheap chicken to eat,oil to burn and who cares if the world burns or people are made to work with amputated limbs...

Regarding workers at the poultry plants who were undocumented, about how many fell into that category? And for those who were undocumented, how many were using social security numbers purchased on the "black market" or stolen?

Kudos to the reporters for an excellent expose of this disgraceful situation. It's hard to believe that there were some safeguards in place at the end of President Clinton's term but overturned by President Bush. No wonder the employee noted that OSHA works for the businesses and not the employees. Now for my question: I know there were reports in the Charlotte Observer about the doctors piece in this inhuman puzzle but there was no mention of what they have done to be a MAJOR part of the problem. Dr. McLellan from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine couldn't have been any clearer in his quote. He basically said that the doctors also work for the poultry industry and not the patients. Why no emphasis on their culpability?

Am looking forward to seeing this expose' and hoping it goes into the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's (ACOEM) role in actually allowing/ forcing the under reporting and mistreatment of injured workers.

ACOEM writes the industry friendly guidelines that occupational physicians must follow.

"Our members feel they are being methodically pressured ... to under-treat and mistreat,'said Dr. Robert McLellan, president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. '...This is a grave ethical concern
for our members. It's a grave medical concern."

No kidding it is of grave ethical concern and grave medical concern!!!!! The question is pressured by who??????


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18523501
"Revised chapters of ACOEM guidelines,low back pain & chronic pain,developed in 2007 and 2008 are evaluated, .... 'not recommended or suitable for use in practice."

http://moldwarriors.com/SK/IJOEH_Oct07_LaDou.pdf
"ACOEM A professional organization in service to industry."

Wall Street Journal
http://moldwarriors.com/SK/WSJOnlineJan92007.pdf "Court of Opinion, Amid Suits Over Mold, Experts Wear Two Hats."

Question:

Did you notice any employee awareness of the cruelty toward animals inherent in poultry processing? Have they become numb to it, as so often happens?

I hope that this will not end here. I know I personally would love to see this report on workplace safety issues become a regular point of interest. with its own monthly time slot for example this month the poultry industry next month construction industry and so on and so on the truth of workplace safety issues is something that has been overlooked for so long and I for one am just so happy to see that finally people are starting to educate the public about it. Thanks so much for your efforts to bring this important issue to light.

Mary Vivenzi
Vice President
United Support & Memorial for workplace Fatalities

Transforming Tragedy into Prevention

MOYER XD

Post a comment

THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

THE MOYERS BLOG
A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

Your Comments

Podcasts

THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

Click to subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe with another reader

Get the vodcast (help)

For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ