• Smithfield Foods supplies pork products under its own name and through a variety of private-label companies.
• Smithfield has been fined as much as $12.6 million for violating Clean Water Act provisions by improperly dumping waste in waterways.
• Meat packers at Smithfield endure poor working conditions and worse treatment than employees in most other industries.
• Find healthier and more ethical options for pork products by visiting Go Green .
-- Profile Updated 07/08/2010
About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods supplies pork products under its own name and through a variety of private-label companies. Based in Smithfield, Virginia, the company employs 51,290 people and reported $11.403 billion in revenues in 2006.
Justice at Smithfield
Smithfield Packing has created an environment of intimidation, racial tension, fear and sometimes, violence, for workers who desperately want a voice on the job. The company in Tar Heel, N.C., has been found liable of physically assaulting workers, threatening bodily harm, and causing the false arrest of workers for exercising their legal rights.
Animex, S.A. - Warsaw, Poland
- Carolina Turkeys (Subsidiary) - Mount Olive, NC
- Charcuteries Imperator S.A. - Saint Priest, France
Charcuteries Imperator S.A. - Saint Priest, France
- Esskay (Subsidiary) - Riderwood, MD
- Gorges/Quik-To-Fix Foods - Garland, TX
- Gwaltney of Smithfield, Ltd. - Smithfield, VA
- Jean d'Erguet S.A. - Quimper, France
- John Morrell & Co. - Cincinnati, OH
- Lykes Meat Group, Inc. - Plant City, FL
- Moyer Packing Company (Subsidiary) - Souderton, PA
- Murphy Brown - Warsaw, NC
- Murphy Farms LLC (Subsidiary) - Rose Hill, NC
- North Side Foods Corp. (Subsidiary) - New Kensington, PA
- Packerland Packing Co., Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland Transport Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland-Plainewell - Plainwell, MI
- Patrick Cudahy Inc. - Cudahy, WI
- RMH Foods - Morton, IL
- Showcase Foods - Philadelphia, PA
- Smithfield Division - Smithfield, VA
- Smithfield Specialty Foods Group (Subsidiary) - Portsmouth, VA
- Societe Bretonne de Salaisons France - Landivisiau, France
- Sun Land Beef Company - Tolleson, AZ
- The Smithfield Packing Co., Inc. - Smithfield, VA
- Valleydale Foods, Inc. (Division) - Salem, VA
- Williamsburg Foods, Inc. - Toano, VA
Contact Smithfield Foods
Smithfield, VA 23430 USA
With the increased activism surrounding immigrant rights, there was a series of demonstrations organizing around the meatpacking industry in cities such as Washington DC, Boston, New York, Raleigh, Richmond, and Chicago. Specifically, organizers targeted Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest meatpacker. A diverse coalition of groups including DC Jobs with Justice, Campaign for Labor Rights, and United Food and Commercial Workers, highlighted the dangerous working conditions in the world's largest pork processing facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Working conditions have not improved since the 2002 lawsuit that found the company guilty of violating human rights in Tar Heel, NC. (Please see related alert item under “Unionization,” citing Feedstuff.)
-- US Newswire, 06/21/2006
The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Smithfield’s cleaning contractor, QSI, unlawfully discharged 14 workers, assaulted workers, and, along with Smithfield packing, threatened them with arrest by immigration authorities, and caused a worker to be falsely arrested for taking collective action at the Tar Heel plant in North Carolina following an employee walkout.
-- Industry Week, 07/20/2005
The Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel, NC is the only meatpacking plant in the United States to have its own private police force. Since its founding in 2000, Smithfield Company Police have patrolled the plant, carrying concealed weapons. They have the power to arrest workers and detain them in an on-site jail cell, and have arrested at least 90 workers and charged them with a variety of crimes to date. Additionally, the Chief of Smithfield Police, Danny Priest, was successfully sued by two workers and found guilty of violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 for arresting and beating union activists after the 1997 election at Smithfield. Other company cops were also involved in the violence following the 1997 election, and some are still Bladen County Sheriff Deputies.
-- United Food and Commercial Workers, 03/01/2005
In February 2005, Human Rights Watch released a report that was the result of a year-long research into operations at three separate processing plants operated by Smithfield Foods plant, Tysons Foods and Nebraska Beef company. The report says workers at the plants are frequently injured, then refused medical care or fired. The report also alleges that repetitive motion injuries are universal in the industry, unsanitary conditions sometimes leave employees covered in animal wastes, and that worker attempts to unionize are sometimes violently quashed.
-- Human Rights Watch, 02/18/2005
Source URL: hrw.org/english/docs/2005/08/03/usdom11575.htm
The Human Rights Watch issued a second report: “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants.” This report details multiple violations of human rights standards in the Smithfield factory in Tar Heel, NC.
-- Human Rights Watch, 01/01/2005
Source URL: www.hrw.org/reports/2005/usa0105/
In June 2002 a supervisor for Smithfield Food admitted before a Senate Committee that in 1997 she fired Smithfield employees who were trying to organize a union. In her testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Sherri Buffkin told the panel, "Smithfield Foods ordered me to fire employees who supported the union, telling me it was either my job or theirs." Buffkin also claimed that the company promoted racial tension to separate workers, testifying that, "Smithfield keeps Black and Latino employees virtually separated in the plant with the Black workers on the kill floor and the Latinos in the cut and conversion departments. The word was that black workers were going to be replaced with Latino workers because blacks were more favorable toward unions." The Employees were awarded $755,000 in punitive damages in March 2002.
-- PR Newswire, 07/21/2002
Source URL: none available
In March 2002 Smithfield was fined $755,000 for violating federal civil rights laws. A jury found the company guilty of violating the rights of two union organizers during an organization drive at the company's plant in Tar Heel, N.C., in 1997. The workers were beaten, arrested and jailed by company security officers.
-- Feedstuffs, 03/11/2002
Source URL: none available
An administrative law judge, working for the National Labor Relations Board, has ruled that managers at the world's largest pork processing plant, the Smithfield Packing Company's slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C., committed ''egregious and pervasive'' labor law violations during two unionizing campaigns in the 1990's. The judge concluded that other workers had been threatened and improperly interrogated about their union activities, that the company had warned of layoffs and a possible plant closing if the unionization campaign succeeded and that one pro-union employee had been assaulted in retaliation for his organizing efforts.
-- New York Times, 01/04/2001
The Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled: Unfair Advantage: Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States under International Human Rights Standards. The report describes how Smithfield Foods intimidated, coerced, threatened, discriminated against and assaulted workers who supported union organizing.
-- Human Rights Watch, 08/01/2000
Source URL: www.hrw.org/reports/2000/uslabor/
Over the past five years, Smithfield Foods has greatly expanded its pork production operations in the Eastern European countries of Poland and Romania. Enlisting the help of politicians in those countries and heavy subsidies from the European Union, Smithfield has built up a large network of feed mills, slaughterhouses and huge hog confinements. Hundreds of thousands of small pig farmers have been overwhelmed by Smithfield’s lower pork prices, and many farmers have either emigrated or switched to working construction. The massive hog operations have also caused extensive environmental damage: Smithfield’s Romanian farms are among the top sources for air and soil pollution; a 65 percent increase in methane gases in the air occurred between 2002 and 2007 in Romania’s Timis County; and repeated manure spills.
-- New York Times, 05/05/2009
In April 2003 shareholders of Smithfield Foods filed a resolution asking the company to disclose more information about its social and environmental policies using standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). "An unattractive track record of labor relations problems and a poor environmental record has led us to file a shareholder resolution with Smithfield Foods," said a spokeswoman from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, one of the filers of the resolution.
Among some of the incidences cited for the resolution are:
- A fine of $10,000 in August 2002 by North Carolina officials after the company admitted to buying swine from a prohibited farm five times in 2001.
- A 2002 lawsuit that accused the company of violating environmental regulations by mishandling its hog waste. (The lawsuit was thrown out by a federal judge in July 2002)
- A lawsuit filed in October 2002 by a former saleswoman of Smithfield claiming the company illegally forced her to take a lie detector test after she filed a sexual harassment complaint. During that same month, an Iowa federal jury had ordered another Smithfield Foods subsidiary, John Morrell and Co., to pay an ex-employee 1.5 million dollars in a sexual harassment suit.
-- AFX News Limited, 04/02/2003
Source URL: none available
Smithfield Foods was fined $12.6 million for serious, chronic violations of the Clean Water Act. Smithfield failed to properly treat wastewater and install sufficient pollution controls resulting in over 5,000 violations of legal limits for phosphorus, fecal coliform, cyanide and other hazardous substances. Smithfield and two subsidiaries were found guilty of excessive dumping from hog slaughtering and processing plants into the Pagan River in Smithfield, Virginia.
-- U.S. Department of Justice, 08/08/1997
Source URL: none available
Ethics and Governance
Smithfield has filed a racketeering lawsuit against the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union, on the theory that speaking out about labor, environmental and safety issues in order to pressure the company to unionize amounts to extortion like that used by organized crime. Smithfield claims that the UFCW violated RICO by issuing press releases, contacting civil rights and environmental groups, organizing protests and calling for boycott. The suit seeks more than $17 million, an order barring the union from publishing “reports or press releases designed to mislead the public,” another barring demonstrations “at Paula Deen events,” and a third barring the union “from participating in the drafting, encouraging, sponsorship and/or passage of public condemnations of plaintiffs by cities, townships or other organizations.”
-- New York Times, 02/05/2008
Workers at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, the world's largest pork processing facility, won the right to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a paid holiday. Last year, Smithfield was forced to cut production when workers braved penalties to walk out or stay home in protest of the company's refusal to grant them the opportunity to honor the civil rights leader. Smithfield relented and will become North Carolina's largest private sector employer recognizing the holiday.
-- United Food and Commercial Workers, 01/21/2008
Source URL: www.smithfieldjustice.com/080114.php
The United Food and Commercial Workers is asking Paula Deen, a celebrity chef and television star, to sever her ties with Smithfield Foods, for which she is a paid spokeswoman. Ms. Deen issued a news release in which she said, “Now, I’m not an expert on the union situation but here’s what I do know: I know the folks at Smithfield care about their employees and work hard to support the communities where they live, work and raise their families.”
-- New York Times, 04/20/2007
Source URL: www.nytimes.com/2007/04/20/us/20deen.html
The U.S. Department of Justice began an antitrust investigation on the proposed merger between Smithfield Foods Inc. and Premium Standard Farms. After six months of investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice approved Smithfield Foods’ plans to buy rival Premium Standard Farms, despite consumers and farming and organizations’ concerns that the merger could hurt small hog farmers.
-- CNN Money, 04/04/2007
4,000 workers at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, NC signed a petition requesting a paid holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is recognized as a state holiday in North Carolina. The petition was presented to Smithfield Vice President Larry Johnson, and he refused to accept it. The company explained its refusal in part by noting that workers were recently allowed to vote on whether they could have a paid holiday for Martin Luther King Day or Easter, further exploiting the divide between the factory’s Latino and Black workers. Hundreds of meatpackers refused to go to work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and lambasted the company for its refusal to give workers the holiday off at a nearby rally.
-- LaborNotes, 01/20/2007
Source URL: www.labornotes.org/node/525
Smithfield Foods Inc. announced that it will purchase ConAgra Foods Packaged Foods Company for $571 million in cash. Smithfield will take over the Armour, Butterball, Eckrich, Longmont, LunchMakers and Margherita brands, which represent a combined $1.8 billion in sales. With this acquisition, Smithfield becomes the largest turkey processor in the United States.
-- Yahoo! Finance, 07/31/2006
Smithfield Foods Inc. announced that it will buy the European meats business of Sara Lee Corp. for $575 million in cash, plus the assumption of up to $39 million in pension-related liabilities.
-- 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance, 06/27/2006
Source URL: www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=21124
Health and Safety
In September 2002 Moyer Packing, a Smithfield subsidiary in Pennsylvania, recalled 203,600 pounds of beef it produced on August 31 after tests by the Department of Agriculture revealed that some of the meat the company produced that day was tainted with E. coli.
-- Associated Press, 09/17/2002
Source URL: none available