Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fire in Paula Deen's kitchen?

Atlanta area churches have joined a campaign to get Paula Deen to meet with workers from Smithfield, the company she promotes, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (central) at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Rev. Lowery, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Judge Greg Mathis, National Hispanic Leadership Conference and others have mounted national campaign to support Smithfield workers. In Atlanta, Deen will be met by a coterie of ministers and their supporters at the Cobb Galleria Centre cooking show she is headlining. The ministers say they'll ask the cooking celebrity to honor her promise to meet with Smithfield workers who have organized to fight for a voice on the job at the world’s largest pork processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C.

Atlanta churches involved represent tens of thousands of congregants including Rev. Michel Wright of Concerned Clergy of Metro Atlanta and Pastor of New Life Christian Church, Rev. Richard Coble, Rev. David Hooker of First Congregational United Church of Christ and many others.

Deen, in previous interviews on Larry King Live and the syndicated radio show Diane Rehm, promised to meet with Smithfield workers who have been fighting for over a decade to improve the working situation in Tar Heel North Carolina.

According to the workers' advocates, Smithfield Tar Heel plant workers suffer crippling injuries. They endure excessive line speeds and receive inadequate training to do their jobs. A 2007 Research Associates of America report, using company data from federal safety and health reports, reveals that injuries at Smithfield Tar Heel went up 200 percent between 2003 and 2006. Also from the advocates: In 2006 a federal appeals courts enforced the National Labor Relations Board decision that found that the company assaulted people, harassed and threatened violence against the Tar Heel workers during an election in 1997. Human Rights Watch, an organization that normally documents abuses by foreign governments, published two reports, in 2000 and 2005, decrying the conditions at the Tar Heel plant.