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STOP ANIMAL CRUELTY Endangering Life: Working at a Slaughterhouse - P2/2    
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The images in the following program are very sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals.

Compassionate viewers, this is the Stop Animal Cruelty program on Supreme Master Television. Last week we presented the first in a two-part series on the extremely hazardous workplace conditions found in slaughterhouses. Today we’ll present the second half of the series, focusing on the even more traumatic mental and emotional toll taken on slaughterhouse employees and the people around them.

Participating daily in violence and destruction would desensitize any person. Former pig abattoir worker Ed Van Winkle, an interviewee for Gail Eisnitz’s book “Slaughterhouse,” recalled,
“You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around down in the blood pit with you and think, ‘God, that really isn’t a bad-looking animal.’ You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.”

Tommy Vladak, another slaughterhouse employee interviewed for the book stated,
“When you’re standing there night after night, digging that knife into those hogs, and they’re fighting you, kicking at you, squealing, trying to bite you …. And then it gets to a point where you’re at a daydream stage. Where you can think about everything else and still do your job. You become emotionally dead.”

These people that work in these facilities oftentimes become desensitized to what’s taking place there, because they have to, for the sake of their job, participate in this abuse and as a result oftentimes take out their anger and frustration on these animals.

Virgil Butler, a former chicken abattoir worker who became a vegan, regularly witnessed absolutely horrific scenes at the facility where he was employed.

I saw people rip the heads from them (chickens), throw them on the floor and stomp on them, and rip them in half. Pull their heads off and put them onto their finger and go around like this…

Loss of empathy not only causes brutal and savage behavior toward animals, but also fosters a violent mentality toward other people. Mr. Van Winkle related to Ms. Eisnitz how the job fundamentally changed him as a person:

“Sometimes I looked at people that way too. I’ve had ideas of hanging my foreman upside down on the line and sticking him. I remember going into the office and telling the personnel man that I have no problem pulling the trigger on a person – if you get in my face I’ll blow you away.”

“Every sticker I know carries a gun, and every one of them would shoot you. Most stickers I know have been arrested for assault. A lot of them have problems with alcohol. They have to drink; they have no other way of dealing with killing live, kicking animals all day long. If you stop and think about it, you’re killing several thousand beings a day.

It happened every single night, every single night that I worked there for years and years, and in more than one plant. We saw fights at the back dock on a regular basis.

The psychological impact for people who work in an industry that requires them to exist in a death-saturated environment, day in and day out, in the killing fields is tremendous. Slaughterhouse workers have high rates of developing addiction. Violent behavior is not uncommon toward the animals and toward other humans.

It really kind of begs the question of what kind of industry requires people to develop anti-social behaviors, violent behaviors as a norm. Witnessing violence traumatizes people, whether that’s violence toward humans or violence toward animals.

After studying more than 500 federal and regional crime reports from the USA, criminologist Dr. Amy Fitzgerald found a direct correlation between the number of slaughterhouse workers in a community and the incidence of murder, rape and other aggressive crimes. In December 2007, former Canadian pig farmer Robert Pickton was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for killing 26 women.

Studies also show that abattoir workers have higher rates of domestic violence. Even in less abusive relationships, family functions are severely impaired. Mr. Vladak disclosed the following to Ms. Eisnitz:

“The worst part, even worse than my accident, was what happened to my family life… I’d blow up at the drop of a hat, come home every night and find something to complain about, take my frustrations from work out on my family.

Mentally stressed slaughterhouse employees often indulge in alcoholism and other forms of addiction. Ed Van Winkle was no different.

“A lot of the guys … just drink and drug their problems away. Some of them end up abusing their spouses because they can’t get rid of the feelings. They leave work with this attitude and they go down to the bar to forget. Only problem is, even if you try to drink those feelings away, they’re still there when you sober up.”

“I’ve taken out my job pressure and frustration on the animals, on my wife – who I almost lost – and on myself, with heavy drinking. I actually thought I was going crazy at one point. I’d hit the bar after work every day, pound down four or five beers, come home and just sit and stare off into space through three or four more.”

Stop Animal Cruelty will return after this brief message. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

You’re watching Stop Animal Cruelty on Supreme Master Television. Due to the gristly working conditions they endure, abattoir employees often suffer from injury, sickness, alcoholism, and a high rate of violent crime. The meat industry has long been known for having low employee retention.

Nobody is going to stay in that plant that long, even maintenance personnel because they get paid so little. So you have a lot of people coming and going, coming and going, so they don’t waste a lot of time training people. They have what they called a training program.

I was considered a trainer; the trainers job wasn’t to teach the new hire how to work, how to do the job, it wasn’t to teach them how to do it more humanely. It was to catch what he missed until he managed to either get it right or they fired him, one or the other.

Slaughterhouse workers are constantly at risk of losing their jobs, and so are afraid to express their opinions or even talk about their injuries or ailments.

The supervisors are telling them straight up “This plant has to run, these chickens have to be run. You can either do it, or we’ll find somebody else that will, and you can go back to the line and bust your hump.”

As soon as you become no longer useful, they get rid of you. If you go to the doctor and you complain too much, they’re going to drug test you, knowing that you are going to fail, because if you manage to work there any time at all, you’re going to do it by doing drugs, absolutely. That’s the only way you can keep up, night after night after night.

If they have a person that they want to get rid of, but they want them to quit, so they don’t have to pay unemployment or at least don’t have to pay it as soon, they will do things to force that person to quit.

They take the urine analysis, and they use that selectively; as long as you’re not causing them to spend any money, they are not going to mess with you. They use it as a tool to get rid of those in the plant that they don’t want. Or in the case of somebody that is injured, that is going to need a lot of doctor’s care, they’ll do it to get rid of somebody so that they don’t have to pay that. “Well this person was using drugs on the job, therefore we don’t have to pay.”

Abattoirs in the US often hire undocumented immigrants, because they are more likely to endure the low pay and not complain about their suffering as they are afraid of being reported to the authorities and face deportation. One of the largest meat- production companies in North America was indicted for 36 cases of human trafficking in 2001 alone.

Use of child labor is also associated with the meat industry. During a 2008 raid of a slaughterhouse in Iowa, USA, officials detained 388 immigrant workers, among whom were 26 minors hired from Mexico and Guatemala. Investigators found that these teenagers had to work up to 90 hours a week handling power saws and sharp knives in an environment rampant with highly toxic chemicals.

Many female immigrants become victims of assault and abuse while working at these types of facilities. Again, out of fear of deportation, incidents are not reported to the police. Despite the meat industry’s notorious record with respect to injury, infectious diseases, violent crime, labor and human rights issues, the gruesome practice of producing meat continues.

Cheaply priced and aggressively marketed as “essential” for people’s health, the cleanly wrapped corpses which are sold in markets hardly reflect the torturous agony of countless animals and abattoir workers. Calculated moves are made to minimize public knowledge about what really happens behind the concrete walls of slaughterhouses.

The people that work in those places, most of them are very uneducated, some of them can’t even read a comic book without some help.

They also have a lot of Hispanic people that can’t speak English. So you’ve got a bunch of people here that really couldn’t possibly hope to get a really good job. They (the industry) pick rural communities for that reason.

The meat industry systematically exploits its voiceless line workers for profit, and each hamburger or chicken patty produced is loaded with the blood, suffering and anguish of both innocent animals and our fellow human beings. By not consuming meat and other animal products, we can eliminate the extreme cruelty imposed on our fellow brothers and sisters around the world and on our animal friends.

On the way home one night, me and Laura were driving along and we were talking about the chicken plant, and I had taken her in and showed her what the hanging room looked like that night and she was appalled and I realized for the first time in my life that I was actually ashamed of the way I made my living.

I turned vegetarian and I realized that chickens weren’t the only animals that suffered because of this factory farming thing. I realized it was spread across the entire animal spectrum, so I decided just to quit eating all meat and I feel better because of it.

Virgil Butler, the courageous former abattoir worker turned animal advocate, passed away in 2006, however, his work exposing slaughterhouse practices and the rampant violence occurring in these workplaces still remains of great importance. May his soul rest peacefully in Heaven. We also respectfully salute Ms. Gail Eisnitz and others for showing how abattoirs destroy communities. Blessed be your noble endeavors to remind our fellow humans to always choose a compassionate, animal-free way of life!

Merciful viewers, thank you for being with us today on Stop Animal Cruelty on Supreme Master Television. Enlightening Entertainment is next after Noteworthy News. May humankind soon create a peaceful world through love for all animals.
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