Fast Food Nation

One by one the packinghouses in chicago closed down

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Unformatted text preview: air to write the book. “I aimed for the public’s heart,” he later wrote in his autobiography, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” For the next thirty years, unions battled to gain representation among Chicago’s stockyard and slaughterhouse workers, who were mainly eastern European immigrants. The large meatpacking firms used company spies, blacklists, and African-American strikebreakers to thwart organizing efforts. Nevertheless, most of Chicago’s packinghouse workers had gained union representation by the end of the Depression. After World War II, their wages greatly improved, soon exceeding the national average for workers in manufacturing. Meatpacking was still a backbreaking, dangerous job, but for many it was also a well-paid and desirable one. It provided a stable, middle-class income. Swift & Company, the largest firm in the industry until the early 1960s, was also the last of the big five meatpackers to remain privately controlled. Much like Ken Monfort, Harold Swift ra...
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