Friday, August 12, 2005

Smithfield Foods: Rewarded For Abusing Workers

It's probably no surprise to readers of this blog, but it turns out that in corporate America, the bad guys get rewarded, according to the Institute for Southern Studies. You may recall last January, Human Rights Watch issued a report called Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants which reported that "workers in the U.S. meat and poultry industry endure unnecessarily hazardous work conditions, and the companies employing them often use illegal tactics to crush union organizing efforts."

One of the chief villians of the report was Smithfield Foods, which "fired union supporters, threatened plant closure, stationed police at plant gates to intimidate workers, and orchestrated an assault on union activists."

Their punishment reward:
You may have missed it, but on July 30, Smithfield Foods -- the world's largest hog producer and pork processer, based in North Carolina -- made some very generous gifts to their corporate leadership:
Smithfield Foods chairman and chief executive officer Joseph W. Luter III got a $9.86 million bonus for the fiscal year 2005.

The bonus tops the $6.6 million bonus he received last year [...]

Fiscal 2005 was good for the other Smithfield executive officers, too. President and chief operating officer C. Larry Pope received a $4.9 million bonus. Joseph W. Luter IV, president of Smithfield Packing Co., got a $2.5 million bonus.

Jerry H. Godwin and Joseph B. Sebring, presidents of Murphy-Brown and John Morrell & Co., respectively, got $1.4 and $1.5 million bonuses.
What did these execs do to earn these riches? It's true that in 2005 the hog and pork giant earned a record $297 million in profits, based on a staggering $11.4 billion in sales.
Good to know that justice always triumphs.