In the News: After months of investigation by federal immigration authorities, agents today raided a House of Raeford Farms chicken processing plant in Greenville, South Carolina, detaining more than 300 workers. Watch Expos�?©'s "20,000 Cuts a Day" for the story of The Charlotte Observer's extraordinary investigation into working conditions at House of Raeford and throughout the industry, and read the paper's ongoing coverage.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008: On the Moyers Blog, Charlotte Observer reporters answer your questions about ergonomic standards, the role doctors and nurses play in reporting workplace injuries, and undocumented poultry workers.
Also, watch "In a Small Town," the Expos�?© episode that was recently nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy�?®.
Thursday, July 10, 2008: The ethnic background of the workers from America's poultry plants has changed over the last twenty years. The reporters at The Charlotte Observer saw an example of this at House of Raeford, where they found a work force that went from largely African American in the early 1990s, to between 80 to 90 percent Latino at some plants today. This shift is reflected in other places across the country, including Mississippi, where filmmaker John Fiege brought his camera in 2004. Fiege's documentary, Mississippi Chicken, follows workers' rights advocate Anita Grabowski as she sets up a center for poultry workers to strengthen their ability to address problems at plants and in their communities. Watch an excerpt from Mississippi Chicken.
Today, Grabowski works for a national advocacy group, Center for Community Change, and supports poultry workers organizing throughout the South. She is currently involved in a North Carolina campaign with the Western North Carolina Workers' Center to combat workplace injuries.
Plus, more in the news: As part of the ongoing immigration probe, a federal grand jury indicts a top manager at House of Raeford Farms. Read the latest from The Charlotte Observer.
Monday, July 7, 2008: In the news: Last week, 2 supervisors from an Iowa meatpacking plant were arrested on criminal immigration charges. The arrests followed a May raid at Agriprocessors, the nation's largest kosher meatpacker, where fraudulent documents were seized and hundreds of workers arrested. The raid is the latest in stepped up efforts at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where worksite enforcement arrests have shown a tenfold increase in the past 5 years.
In February 2008, as part of its series on poultry workers, The Charlotte Observer revealed that 42 out of 52 House of Raeford workers who spoke to the paper about their legal status admitted to being in the country illegally. It also found supervisors who said that managers were aware that the company was hiring undocumented workers - and at least one plant preferred them in order to have a workforce less likely to complain about working conditions. In the wake of the Observer's investigative series, federal immigration agents questioned supervisors from House of Raeford Farms. Their inquiries led to the arrest of 5 supervisors from the company's Greenville plant in June.
This week on Expos�?©:
a new episode online and on Bill Moyers
Journal (check local listings). The numbers coming
out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics say the poultry industry's safety record
has improved over the last decade. But are those numbers right? Reporters from The Charlotte Observer asked labor
attorneys, experts in workplace safety, regulators, doctors, and over 200
poultry workers. They analyzed thousands of pages of documents, including Occupational
Safety & Health Administration records, company injury logs, and academic
studies. The result? Their investigative series, "The Cruelest Cuts," shows why the poultry
industry is not as safe as it claims to be. Congress took note, with the Senate holding two hearings in April. And just last week, the House Committee on Education and Labor started asking some questions of its own.
Read The Observer's original 6-part series and follow the ongoing coverage. Watch last week's House hearing on the "hidden tragedy" of workplace injuries. . Ask the reporters about their investigation by submitting questions to the Blog on the Bill Moyers Journal site. And learn about musculoskeletal disorders -- the most common work-related injuries among poultry workers.