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What Happens when the Meat Packers Come to Town?

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What Happens when the Meat Packers Come to Town?

... Because of the exceedingly low wages, many employees cannot afford health care. Health coverage for line workers typically does not begin until employees have worked at least three months (Broadway et al. 1994). Not surprisingly, an exceptionally high industry labor turnover rate exists, with estimates ranging from 20% to 80% annually. ...
... Local residents often report feeling that the quality of life in their communities has deteriorated given the large influx of employment-seeking immigrant laborers (Broadway et al. 1994). And, although long-time residents admit that the industries bring work and strengthen the local income, they also blame the processing plants for many community-wide problems (Stull, 1990;Stull et al. 1992;Stull and Broadway 1995). ...
... Overall, participants' perceptions of community change and subsequent concerns parallel those of long-term residents in other rural meatpacking communities (see Broadway et al. 1994;Gouveia and Stull 1995). This was not a surprise; indeed, it was expected that participants would mention overcrowded schools, housing shortages, and communication problems as community concerns. ...
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Much of the research on Mexican Americans and earnings has focused on either national samples or on states such as California and Texas. Even though Mexican Americans have become more visible in the Midwest, we know very little about their earnings in the Midwest. Using an individual level sample consisting of data on 1,807 Mexican Americans from the 2000 Integrated 1% Public Use Microdata Series, we examine the extent to which human capital, family status and industry concentration predict earnings. Multivariate analyses reveal that education and years in the U.S. are positively associated with earnings. However, Mexican American women yield lower returns to their education compared to their male counterparts. Women also experience an earnings penalty for having children while men do not. In addition, workers concentrated in the peripheral sector earn significantly less than workers in the core sector. The findings are interpreted in terms of human capital and labor market theories and directions for future research are discussed.
... The smaller the community, the more amplified the effects. Local governments that may have originally provided subsidies to attract a meat processing plant to the area may soon find themselves struggling to organize a response (Broadway et al 1994). ...
... Recent literature on the meat processing industry in the Midwest mainly spotlights small rural towns where the effects of immigration have been most pronounced. Case studies on communities like Garden City, Kansas; Lexington, Nebraska; and Storm Lake, Iowa, depict tensions developing between communities and large corporations over time (Broadway et al 1994;Cooper 1997;Cook 1999;Grey 1995;Gouveia and Stull 1995;Hackenberg and Kukulka 1995;Katz 1996). Magazine articles and newspaper stories are also quick to underscore the pros and cons of meatpacking plants sited in rural communities (Carl 1997;Hedges et al 1996;Katz 1996). ...
... Downtown stores and shops are more likely to remain in business or expand, and new establishments appear. Local governments are able to collect more in tax revenues (Broadway et al 1994). Like a good neighbor, meatpacking employers may fund language programs for workers, pay for child care facilities, or make charitable contributions to local causes and organizations (IBP 1997;Leonard 1999). ...
... Because of the exceedingly low wages, many employees cannot afford health care. Health coverage for line workers typically does not begin until employees have worked at least three months (Broadway et al. 1994). Not surprisingly, an exceptionally high industry labor turnover rate exists, with estimates ranging from 20% to 80% annually. ...
... Local residents often report feeling that the quality of life in their communities has deteriorated given the large influx of employment-seeking immigrant laborers (Broadway et al. 1994). And, although long-time residents admit that the industries bring work and strengthen the local income, they also blame the processing plants for many community-wide problems (Stull, 1990;Stull et al. 1992;Stull and Broadway 1995). ...
... Overall, participants' perceptions of community change and subsequent concerns parallel those of long-term residents in other rural meatpacking communities (see Broadway et al. 1994;Gouveia and Stull 1995). This was not a surprise; indeed, it was expected that participants would mention overcrowded schools, housing shortages, and communication problems as community concerns. ...
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Intensive, in-depth interviews were conducted with 45 non-Hispanic white residents of three rural Nebraska meatpacking communities. The purpose of the investigation was to document (I) perceptions of community change; (2) community-wide benefits of a new Latino population; and (3) strategies for strengthening multi-ethnic rural communities. Data were analyzed using Thematic Analyses (Aronson 1994). Application of the findings, for strengthening rural communities, is discussed.
... The US experience indicates that the shift from an urban to rural-based meatpacking industry has been a mixed blessing for small towns where packing plants have located. The industry provides a welcome boost to a region's agricultural economy by increasing the demand for animals and feed but it is also associated with impairing water quality in rural areas and bringing a host of social problems for packinghouse communities in the form of: housing shortages, increases in crime and the demand for social assistance and special services (Broadway, 1990;Stull & Broadway, 1990;Broadway and Stull, 1991;Stull et al., 1992;Broadway et al., 1994;Grey, 1995;Gouveia and Stull, 1995). This article examines how one small prairie town has dealt with these problems and identi"es strategies that towns can use in the future. ...
... A barometer of the town's economic fortunes and the impoverished nature of many of the newcomers is found in the number of meals provided by the shelter; in 1983 the number was 28,081 by 1988 the number was 69,003. The sudden demand for housing has usually been alleviated by large trailer courts which end up becoming newcomer ghettos (Benson, 1990;Broadway et al., 1994;Broadway, 1994). ...
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Rural farming communities throughout the Prairies and Great Plains have sought to reverse decades of slow economic decline by attracting value-added processing of agricultural products as a means of economic development. The meatpacking industry has been attracted to the region by the availability of fed cattle. It has created thousands of low-paying jobs and boosted local agricultural economies by increasing the demand for animals and feedstuffs, while at the same time impairing water quality and bringing a host of social problems to packinghouse communities. This article examines how the town of Brooks, Alberta prepared and dealt with these challenges over a two year period following the expansion of a beefpacking plant. Despite the advance warning of the social changes that would accompany the hiring of additional workers the town failed to meet the housing needs of newcomers recruited to work at the plant and experienced a significant increase in a variety of social disorders. The study concludes that preparing for change begins with the recognition that social and environmental impacts are inevitable with the arrival of a new industry. A pro-active response to protecting the environment and ensuring that basic human needs are met is better for a community and its workforce than having changes thrust upon it by an industry whose only interest is in maximizing profits.
... Serpell (1986, p. 204) points out that historically 'those directly responsible for killing animals have been regarded with a curious mixture of awe and disgust, not unlike that normally reserved for public executioners' . Slaughterhouses are associated with higher levels of socio-economic deprivation or 'slaughterhouse blues' (Stull & Broadway, 2013); Broadway (1994) found that slaughterhouses locating to an area often resulted in increases in crime, social services use, homelessness, and healthcare strains. Purcell (2011) also draws attention to the intense (physical and otherwise) vulnerability of workers in the slaughterhouse. ...
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At the intersection of death geographies and animal geographies, the topic of animal death offers crucial insights for how we understand death and how we define human/nonhuman boundaries. This review piece brings rich discussions of animal death across anthropology, critical animal studies and the environmental humanities into conversation with work in geography. This article takes a two-pronged approach; first, in recognition of the intensely spatial nature of death, this article explores where animal death takes place. This section observes how spaces of animal death are physically concealed and how this spatial distancing is aided by verbal concealment and dismemberment of the animal body, as well as how justifications for killing are organised along spatial lines. This helps to make animals killable in these spaces. The second section focuses on who is killed and made killable as well as who kills. The degree of being killable or grievable is highly uneven amongst animals, as it is amongst humans. Moreover, those individuals who routinely inflict animal death are subject to discrimination and vulnerability due to this proximity. Finally, the article concludes with reflections on what the topic of animal death can contribute to the death geographies and animal geographies literatures, and how we can move towards more animal-centric approaches to animal death.
... There they take lowwage, low-skilled jobs created as part of a broad restructuring of the United States economy and redeployment of capital to cheaper production sites (Sassen 1990). Immigration to these "new destinations" fuels rapid growth in many rural communities, and the dramatic demographic, linguistic, and cultural changes that follow defy stereotypical assumptions of small-town life (e.g., see Amato 1996;Broadway 2007;Broadway, Stull, and Podraza 1994;Engstrom 2001;Fink 2003;Grey and Woodrick 2002;Haverluk 2004;Zuniga and Hernandez-Leon 2005). Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in schools, where the accompanying challenges of adjustment and accommodation are uniquely assumed by teachers and administrative leaders. ...
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This issue of Human Organization is the result of the transborder conference Cultura y Comunidad held in Ensenada, Mexico (2014). Stemming from the "world-wide" incentive and trajectory of the SfAA, and the growing interest in "Applied Anthropology" in Mexico, Mexican and United States institutions joined with the SfAA in a collaborative conference to explore transborder themes affecting individuals and communities, social process, and social justice from the perspectives of transborder anthropologies. Applied vs. Activist anthropology and differences in Mexican and United States anthropology are explored. The conference proposed acknowledging the regional, transnational/transborder - the Southwest North America and Northern Mexico as a geographic and fluid human entity. Gender, indigeneity, education, health and cancer treatment, monetary exchange, violence, and ethnic representation are discussed from both Mexican and United States transborder perspectives. A principal goal is to engage "world anthropologies" in dialogue and collaboration while challenging anthropology's western hegemonic structure.
... Much attention has been directed to the demographic profile of slaughterhouse employees. Whereas the general public, media, and even government officials have focused on the immigration status of slaughterhouse employees in relation to crime (discussed below), the academic literature has focused on the age, gender, and marital status of the workers as posing an increased criminogenic risk, with young single males most likely to seek employment in the meatpacking industry (Broadway, 1990(Broadway, , 1994(Broadway, , 2000(Broadway, , 2001Broadway & Stull, 2006;Stull & Broadway, 2004). ...
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More than 100 years after Upton Sinclair denounced the massive slaughterhouse complex in Chicago as a "jungle," qualitative case study research has documented numerous negative effects of slaughterhouses on workers and communities. Of the social problems observed in these communities, the increases in crime have been particularly dramatic. These increases have been theorized as being linked to the demographic characteristics of the workers, social disorganization in the communities, and increased unemployment rates. But these explanations have not been empirically tested, and no research has addressed the possibility of a link between the increased crime rates and the violent work that takes place in the meatpacking industry. This study uses panel analysis of 1994-2002 data on nonmetropolitan counties in states with "right-to-work" laws (a total of 581 counties) to analyze the effect of slaughterhouses on the surrounding communities using both ordinary least squares and negative binomial regression. The findings indicate that slaughterhouse employment increases total arrest rates, arrests for violent crimes, arrests for rape, and arrests for other sex offenses in comparison with other industries. This suggests the existence of a "Sinclair effect" unique to the violent workplace of the slaughterhouse, a factor that has not previously been examined in the sociology of violence.
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The Great Plains are sometimes characterized as an economically lagging region. To shed some light on the region’s prospects, the locational and structural changes in employment patterns in the northern and central Great Plains were examined for the 1980 to 1990 period. County-level data were drawn from CD-ROM census publications and matched with locational references using Atlas *GIS . Shift-share computations were undertaken for the region as a whole and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. Employment declined sharply in agriculture and construction, but increased in the service sectors. Compared with the nation as a whole, the region competed poorly in many sectors, though it performed superbly in manufacturing and came close to holding its own in the business service and public administration sectors. Prospects appear bright for the metropolitan centers on the region s periphery, but the bulk of the territory will likely see only localized points of growth.
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Immigration is changing the face of rural America. Stable, year-round employment in the food-processing industry is the most significant factor attracting immigrants into the rural Midwest. Much has been published documenting social and economic changes in rural communities following surges in immigration in rural meat-processing communities. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine immigrants' perceptions of work and residence in rural America. To this end, personal interviews were conducted with 43 immigrants residing in three Nebraska meatpacking communities. Participants described routes of immigration and motivations for international movement, work in the packing plants, and rural residence. Work for future investigators and the role of policy and social service professionals are presented.
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In 1988, IBP, the world's largest meat processing firm, announced it would open a beefpacking plant in Lexington, Nebraska. This was part of the latest wave of meatpacking restructuring which moved plants away from urban centers and union strongholds to rural communities. This paper examines community changes accompanying the opening of a large meatpacking plant and the arrival of Latinos, who comprise 70-80 percent of the plant's work force. Data from Nebraska Job Services, Social Services, Dawson County Register of Deeds, the U.S. Census, and Haven House, which provides temporary food and shelter to newcomers, were used to examine IBP hiring patterns, immigration patterns, general assistance benefits, social services requests, school enrollment and turnover, and job service applications. Interviews with newly arrived Latinos yielded information on household composition, education, English language skills, and work history. Interviews with established residents of Lexington provided baseline data and data concerning community attitudes towards IBP and socioeconomic changes associated with the plant. Recommendations for community residents and leaders in these "new" meatpacking communities include creating a positive context of reception for new immigrants, creating economic development beyond IBP, and building for a second generation. (Contains 40 references and 10 figures.) (TD)
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