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No ShortcutsOrganizing for Power in the New Gilded Age$
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Jane F. McAlevey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190624712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190624712.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2021

Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods

A Huge Success You’ve Hardly Heard About

(p.143) 5 Smithfield Foods
No Shortcuts

Jane F. McAlevey

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates how motivation and strategy may have more to do with failure and success across all sectors of workers than previously thought. Most academics have long assumed that organizing the unorganized might be possible only among low-wage service workers. The case study of Smithfield Foods returns the focus to the private sector, to the organization of the world’s largest pork production facility, in rural North Carolina—the state with the lowest rate of unionization in the United States. The workers there are mostly men, and the employer had encouraged and exploited racial and ethnic tensions among them so profoundly as to turn the plant into a de facto Jim Crow enclave. It was in this unpromising context that the workers in a traditional private-sector factory were organized into a strong union that achieved a stunning win.

Keywords:   unionization, Smithfield Foods, low-wage service workers, private sector, North Carolina

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