Fast Food Nation

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Unformatted text preview: ben Ramirez, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 100A, the city’s meatpacking union. Ramirez is in his early sixties, but still looks fit enough to work in a packing plant, with broad shoulders, a thick neck, and strong hands. His smoothly shaved head adds to his formidable appearance. When Ramirez arrived at the Chicago stockyards in 1956, cowboys on horseback still herded cattle from their pens to the slaughterhouses. He was seventeen years old at the time and did not speak any English. He’d just come from Guanajuato, Mexico, and found a job at an old processing plant operated by Swift & Company. He was one of the few Mexicans employed there; the other workers were Polish, Lithuanian, and African-American. They looked down at Mexicans, and so Ramirez was not allowed to use a knife or perform any skilled tasks. Supervisors gave him the lowest menial jobs in the plant. He carried heavy boxes and barrels of meat, getting soaked in blood that hardened and froze to his clothing during the winter. After a few years he went to work for a nearby processing company, Glenn & Anderson, where he worked in sanitation. Three years later...
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