Sunday, March 16, 2008

Paula Deen Resolution: Why We Think You Can Do Better by Smithfield Workers

It is with great disappointment that we have made the decision to no longer watch Paula Deen, a Food Network chef and cookbook author who we have loved for many years. We will no longer be purchasing her magazine or books, sharing stories about her show, or making any statement or observation that could in any way be construed as supporting her continued relationship with and consistent statements in support of Smithfield Foods.

We offer the following blog resolution in support of encouraging Paula Deen to make a better choice about who she works with and why. That she opens what she calls her big heart and educates herself about the historic struggle many workers face to be physically safe at work.

We hope that she turns a critical eye to the situation at the Tar Heel packing plant in North Carolina and that she works to understand the difference between not liking your job or having a hard job where you have complaints, and the challenges faced when you are systematically and consistently facing horrible conditions.

And, finally, we hope that Paula Deen understands that healthy family values are worker-friendly and that corporations have a real opportunity to be and become safe and family-friendly places to work.

So today, we offer the following:

WHEREAS Paula Deen is not only connected to but serves as the public face of Smithfield Foods, a meat packing and processing operation,

WHEREAS Paula Deen has received compensation for her relationship with Smithfield Foods,

WHEREAS numerous sources have documented horrible conditions for workers at the Smithfield Plant (source, source, source)

WHEREAS "the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge all passed resolutions supporting the workers at the Tar Heel Smithfield plant and calling for the removal of products made in the plant from the shelves." (source)

WHEREAS "the city of Chicago has already passed a resolution against Smithfield, insiting the company “cease and desist from the deplorable, immoral and illegal conditions they have inflicted on their workers.” (source)

WHEREAS groups like the United Church of Christ have passed resolutions encouraging members to pay attention to the problems at hand (source),

WHEREAS workers have publicly stated that they have tried to contact Paula Deen and urged her to break ties with Smithfield due to some astounding problems at the plant,

WHEREAS "In February 2005, Human Rights Watch released a report that was the result of a year-long research into operations at three separate processing plants operated by Smithfield Foods plant, Tysons Foods and Nebraska Beef company. The report says workers at the plants are frequently injured, then refused medical care or fired." (Human Rights Watch)

WHEREAS numerous sources have documented Paula Deen's public response:

"It is not my expertise." (source)

When asked directly, "If it is somehow found out down the road that Smithfield is intimidating their workers, would you ever pull your name or not be associated with the company?" Deen responds, "You know, all of us in America who work, we all have some complaints about our work. You know it's called work for a reason. It's not called play so there will always be complaints about our work place. . .I am not the one to solve union issues."

WHEREAS Smithfield has been associated with the following products:

Armour, Butterball, Smithfield Lean Generation Pork Tender 'n Easy, Smithfield Self Basting, Lykes, Sunnyland, Jamestown, Gwaltney, Great, Valleydale, Esskay, Reelfoot, Smithfield Ham & Products and Stadler Country Hams.

WHEREAS Smithfield has been associated with the following affilated companies:

- Animex, S.A. - Warsaw, Poland
- Carolina Turkeys (Subsidiary) - Mount Olive, NC
- Charcuteries Imperator S.A. - Saint Priest, France
- Esskay (Subsidiary) - Riderwood, MD
- Gorges/Quik-To-Fix Foods - Garland, TX
- Gwaltney of Smithfield, Ltd. - Smithfield, VA
- Jean d'Erguet S.A. - Quimper, France
- John Morrell & Co. - Cincinnati, OH
- Lykes Meat Group, Inc. - Plant City, FL
- Moyer Packing Company (Subsidiary) - Souderton, PA
- Murphy Brown - Warsaw, NC
- Murphy Farms LLC (Subsidiary) - Rose Hill, NC
- North Side Foods Corp. (Subsidiary) - New Kensington, PA
- Packerland Packing Co., Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland Transport Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland-Plainewell - Plainwell, MI
- Patrick Cudahy Inc. - Cudahy, WI
- RMH Foods - Morton, IL
- Showcase Foods - Philadelphia, PA
- Smithfield Division - Smithfield, VA
- Smithfield Specialty Foods Group (Subsidiary) - Portsmouth, VA
- Societe Bretonne de Salaisons France - Landivisiau, France
- Sun Land Beef Company - Tolleson, AZ
- The Smithfield Packing Co., Inc. - Smithfield, VA
- Valleydale Foods, Inc. (Division) - Salem, VA
- Williamsburg Foods, Inc. - Toano, VA

RESOLVED that we cannot and will not in good conscience support, encourage the support of Paula Deen or Smithfield Foods and their subsidiaries.

RESOLVED that we unequivocally state that Paula Deen may not be responsible for the problems and conditions at the workplaces of any products she endorses, but that she is now part of the very corporation creating said problems and conditions.

RESOLVED that we will continue to speak out against worker abuse and intimidation.

RESOLVED that we stand in solidarity with cities, organizations, and individuals speaking out on this matter.

NOTE: I did write to Paula Deen but did not receive a response.


TinkerKenny said...

Nice! I have to admit I kind of like Paula's high cholesterol recipes, but the way she talks about brutalized workers ("It's called work for a reason, it's not called play???" WTF?) makes my stomach churn. A brave stand, guys. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

Good for DC Food. I could use the reduction in calories from Paula's cooking anyway! Really appreciate you educating us about what's erally going on behind that pork. I will no longer buy any Smithfield products! Anna

Anonymous said...

Southern greed pure and simple. Back in the good ol' days (her sentiments, not mine) the woman would have owned slaves. Plenty of them. And would have beat them regularly.

Anonymous said...

I applaud DC Food Blog for taking such a strong moral stand. A good should care about where their food comes from. Also, I think she needs a new publicist. What a dumb answer to give. Obviously if you have contempt for the little people it's going to come out anyway no matter how hard you try to hide it with a fake warmth and a phony good ol'southern accent.

ew01 said...

Check out this Paula Deen/Smithfield protest song:

Anonymous said...

Ok, maybe I've been living in a cave, or maybe I just don't prepare ham very often, but what is the deal with Smithfield?

Barbara said...

Shame on Paula Deen. I think I will join in on boycotting Smithfield products and watching Paula's shows.

Anonymous said...

ok, i dont want to detract from your point, but is everyone here, stating your opinion in the appropriate places? like the websites of smithfield and/or paula deen? let them know that fight isnt local. it goes anywhere their products go. always do your OWN research before you decide to boycott a product or personality. if entire cities like boston are taking action, show up at your next city council meeting armed with the proper documentation to make something happen. if you want to go all out, find the magazines, tv, and newspapers that carry their advertising, and tell them you cant support companies that would do business with them. these companies will continue to abuse their workers as long as consumers purchase their products.

Karen said...

Oh come on guys - poor Paula NEEDS the money - apparently millions isn't enough . . . her statement that it's called work for a reason is repulsive. She is phoney as they come and greed is her middle name. Good for the workers for speaking out. And I totally agree with the guy that said Paula would have had a slave . . .

Anonymous said...

Envy is a sin! The only thing I get from most of the previous comments is that people just cannot seem to be happy for those individuals that HAVE MADE their life successful.

Those of you that find it easy to judge Ms. Deen on her association with Smithfield would not being doing anything different if YOU were in her place. If you feel that strong about the Smithfield Workers, then you get YOUR butt working on the problem.....and do something about it!

ALSO...if you don't like her high cholesterol and high calorie recipes, don't cook them! If you don't like her show, don't watch it! People get a life!

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with Smithfield because to be honest this is the first I've heard of this controversary BUT I am tired of her "you all" and "constant phoney laughing" throughout her show..I even had my son, on a visit to his home in FL, me being from OH, drive me to GA to visit her restaurant..which we had to go in and purchase from the buffet and take to our hotel room to eat, which I'm not compaining about, because it was still great..but in watching her Paula's Party since then I just CANNOT STAND WATCHING HER! It is such a "cheesy" show and after tonight I am removing her show from my viewing schedule. Why does it always seem that these high profile chef's have to take it over the top for us that made them who they are? Don't they realize that the person they started out to be is the person we want to see. So long Paula, I'll miss you, but I can no longer stand watching you and hearing your annoying dialogue and voice.
Pam B.

Anonymous said...

This is great information. I always think that people in her position should be careful of who the associate themselves business wise.
In other news, has anybody checked out the e-bay auction of the personal family photos? I went to e-bay and search for "Paula Deen" and it was at the top of the page.

Anonymous said...

Paula got too big for her britches and is only doing public appearances for her pocketbook. I gave up watching her as she has been overmarketed and when she decided to put KGosselin as her talk show hostess for her show I said...don't want that trash in my house. Good riddins to Gosselin and shame on you Paula Deen!!!!

J Starbuck said...

I love her Chicken in Wine Sauce. it's to die for!

Anonymous said...

Do you really think the factory would completely overhaul its safety issues just by Paula saying, "do it or I'll quit supporting your product"???? I'm not so sure. It sounds like this factory has a cold, heartless "corporate" mentality and only cares about the bottom line. Although I'm sure Paula has increased their bottom line to some degree, I wouldn't give her too much credit for having that much power. Sounds like the proper place to turn for a factory overhaul is the Human Rights Department and local and/or national TV News staff to draw attention to the problem and put the pressure on the factory to change its ways. While Paula's words on "work" were poorly chosen, she's right in that she doesn't hold the authority or the expertise to negotiate workers rights. She's simply a restaurant owner/cook who happens to have developed her little sack lunch business into a large, well-marketed industry and that's called being an entrepeneur. I support the workers claims and believe them wholeheartedly, but Paula alone is not their solution. I hate to say it and I know personally how hard it is to find work nowadays, but if conditions are that dangerous, the factory workers need to try to find safer jobs.

Laura in IL

Anonymous said...

Paula Deen is a big fat joke!!, just read she did not want to co-host with Kate Gosslen, because she felt Kate was too contraversioal (or however u spell it). Talk about a loud mouthed woman, Paula has everone beat in that division.!Paula uses her family for her show and I feel sure she coaching them on what to say....she is such a showoff! I can't stand her loud mouth or even her show, and by the way...what makes Paula so wonderful when everything she cooks is loaded with fat, carbs, and etc. Listen to her and she will kill ya!

Anonymous said...

Take Paula Deen off the air, can't stand the big mouthed woman!

Anonymous said...

Can't stand to hear Paula Deen's showy big mouth, nor I stand to watch her eat on hrr show, she eats like a pig.Get rid of her!

Anonymous said...

Paula Deen please watch the Food Inc documentary dvd
If that doesn't change your mind, then I guess its just all about the money !
We have to be pro-active about our food industry in this country .. and stand up for what is right.
Watch the dvd and then see if you can honestly support Smithfield

Anonymous said...

paula deen, first off is no more a chef, than mickey mouse-but- not only does smithfield mistreat their employees but what about those pigs in the steel cages, the humain society is on their tails paula deen & smithfeild foods is a marriage made in hell, I want nothing to do with either one. Ron Pfingst Hot Springs,ar.

Anonymous said...

I know this was posted awhile ago, but I do urge everyone to continue with the Paula Deen/Smithfield boycott. One person stated that due to Paula Deen's success, that everyone was just envious, that's why we were upset. WRONG, it called INTEGRITY, something Ms. Deen appears to be lacking in. I would also recommend watching the film, "Food, Inc.", it's quite eye opening to see our governments role in these abuses. I for one, have written my Congressman, Senator, The Food Network, and Paula Deen on Face Book. I encourage you to do the same, as its not just a local problem.

Anonymous said...

You guys are idiots.

Neuse River North Carolina said...

i don't agree but nice try ,,

thanks for sharing