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Unformatted text preview: ys tell the line speed,” a former Monfort nurse told me, “by the number of people with lacerations coming into my
office.” People usually cut themselves; nevertheless, everyone on the line tries to stay alert. Meatpackers often work within inches of each
other, wielding large knives. A simple mistake can cause a serious injury. A former IBP worker told me about boning knives suddenly flying
out of hands and ricocheting off of machinery. “They’re very flexible,” she said, “and they’ll spring on you… zwing, and they’re gone.”
Much like french fry factories, beef slaughterhouses often operate at profit margins as low as a few pennies a pound. The three
meatpacking giants — ConAgra, IBP, and Excel — try to increase their earnings by maximizing the volume of production at each plant. Once
a slaughterhouse is up and running, fully staffed, the profits it will earn are directly related to the speed of the line. A faster pace means
higher profits. Market pressures now exert a perverse influence on the management of beef plants: th...
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- Spring '08