Independence Day for serfs

July 4th is always ripe with the obligatory fireworks displays, picnics, barbeques, and a day off for many of our American workers . . . some with pay . . . some without. Yet, what is there to celebrate if you are one of the hundreds of millions of folks who get up each and every morning and punch out your energy for ‘the man’?

The Wednesday June 26 USA Today Money section ran a lengthy piece on the proposed deal between China’s Shuanghui Meat Corp. and our own Smithfield Corporation. This merger, which in reality is the Chinese company taking control of Smithfield, would encompass over 100,000 employees from the two countries, and annual combined revenues of over $19 billion.

The USA Today story focused on a few workers from the two countries, one in Tangshan China, and two others in Denison, Iowa. The paper, true to its goal of showing just how good our American workers have it over their Chinese counterparts (as if that really means squat), revealed how the Chinese worker they interviewed averages $500 a month in income cutting pork at the Shuanghui owned plant. Then the story immediately asserts:That’s less than the typical $650- $700 weekly earnings, not counting benefits, in Denison at the (Smithfield owned) Farmland Foods factory . . . Leo Kanne, head of Local 440 for the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union {notice how they get organized labor on board with the hype) says, ‘Folks earn enough to take their kids to Pizza Ranch every week, maybe the Dairy Queen, and go on vacation once a year . . . That’s all these people {serfs?} want . . . Nobody is getting rich working in these plants. It’s a decent living. It’s honest work. It’s hard work. It can be brutal work.’”

The USA Today article used the heading of its piece to trumpet how the American dream has worked for some of these Smithfield workers, of whom almost half are Mexican and Central American immigrants. Matter of fact, the town of Denison is made up of 46% Latinos. The article goes on to reveal how after a few years of hard but honest work, to quote Leo Kanne, workers like Salvadoran immigrant Frank Chavez and his Mexican wife Alma”established enough credit to put $3,000 down and buy a 19th century home for $83,000.”

The story mentions how in Denison”the jobless rate is below 5% and the median household income is $44,000 {translated: in most homes more than one person is working to get to that median income} . . . Crime is nearly non-existent; people do not lock their doors.”Matter of fact, for those of you reading this who are remembering an American film classic about the fictitious town of Bedford Falls, NY, Denison’s water tower actually has a slogan printed on it:”It’s a wonderful life!”Sometimes life does truly imitate art.

Now to the nitty-gritty of this Great American Dream story. Buried inside this pro-corporatist story are some facts, and some omissions. Inside of all the rah-rah for American capitalism at work, the story does relate:”From the kill floor- where employees say temperatures reach 110 degrees in the summer and the smell of human sweat mixes with every possible odor of swine offal . . .” {notice how the writer and editor refused to allow we lay folks to read the word waste? }. What the article (intentionally?) failed to mention was the fact that, if this deal goes through, Smithfield CEO C. Larry Pope (I love how these rich guys put the single letter in front of their names- does the ‘C ‘possibly stand for maybe ‘Cutthroat’?) stands to make in excess of $46 million in compensation, and his CFO Robert Manly another $22.8 million. How many hours on the kill floor at 110 degrees, knee deep in hog shit does Frank Chavez have to work to reach that? Oh well, let poor Frank and Alma spend their off hours fixing up that 19th century house and running down to the Pizza Ranch or Dairy Queen, while C. Larry and Robert count their dough.

As more and more American companies get rid of full time positions, replacing them with ‘benefit-free’ ‘part time ones, and families need to have not just two workers, but even three or four if possible, just to stay above water . . . enjoy your July 4th respite and please . . . SUPPORT AMERICA AND CHINA AND EAT MORE PORK!

Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on Intrepid Report,, Information Clearing House, OpEd News, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at

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2 Responses to Independence Day for serfs

  1. Good column. It’s time to revive the word “pigs” to describe the plutocrats and their minions.

  2. Anytime income equality is mentioned the rich elitists scream Class Warfare, well there has been a class war going on since the 70s, and guess who won.
    The unions have been decimated and the workers turned into $8 an hour slaves.
    The REPS. and DEMS are working hard to pass an immigration bill that guarantees that wages will be kept low and unions weakened even further
    The cheap labor component of the immigration bill is why the Chamber Of Commerce is behind it,
    it’s good for business, screw the workers.