Documented Abuses:

Smithfield Packing has created an environment of intimidation, racial tension, fear and sometimes, violence, for workers who desperately want a voice on the job. The company in Tar Heel, N.C., has been found liable of physically assaulting workers, threatening bodily harm, and causing the false arrest of workers for exercising their legal rights.

Human Rights Watch has cited Smithfield Packing for violating international human rights standards in two reports, Unfair Advantage in 2002 and Blood, Sweat, and Fear in 2005. According to Human Rights Watch, Smithfield has violated the rights of workers to organize a union, denied workers compensation to injured workers and retaliated against workers for reporting injuries.
Racial tensions have also been stirred up by Smithfield management, in order to keep workers from uniting. Smithfield Tar Heel knows that if this happens, their days violating civil and human rights at the plant are at an end.

An Unsafe Workplace: Health and Safety Problems in the Plant
Meatpacking is dangerous work, but Smithfield in Tar Heel takes few steps to minimize the risks or even fulfill basic safety requirements. Some of the worst safety issues include repetitive motion injuries, line speed, inadequate training, and the systematic denial of workers' compensation when people are injured.
The number one safety complaint of workers is the speed of production. The line speed puts workers at ongoing risk. Workers are forced to complete the same motion at rapid speeds, and as the Raleigh New and Observer reported in January 2005, "Workers are packed so close that they often cut each other."

Safety training has been inadequate, with workers reporting that they had little or no training before starting the dangerous jobs. One young worker died in November 2003 in a preventable accident that OSHA found was caused by "lack of adequate training" and "a lack of accountability" on the part of Smithfield.
Smithfield itself has an interest in underreporting injuries. Not only does the company avoid paying OSHA fines if injuries are not reported, but fewer injuries lower the cost of workers' compensation insurance. The Human Rights Watch, in its report, cited studies that revealed serious underreporting of injuries at Tar Heel.

Violations: The Smithfield Clinic and Workers' Compensation
The in-plant clinic and company-owned primary care facility across the street from the plant are the first ways to avoid paying workers their due compensation for injuries. The company discourages employees from reporting injuries, claims injuries happened away from the plant, and threatens termination if workers file claims.
The in-house clinic and primary care facility are the first place workers are sent when injured, and these facilities are seen by workers as nothing but an extension of management. The clinics must approve time-off and compensation claims, and according to workers, often deny claims and benefits and fail to report injuries. Workers have also been suspicious that the clinics do not follow confidentiality procedures.
Numerous employees have also reported that some medical personnel at the clinics are unqualified, and that they have given cursory examinations for serious injuries and told workers to go back on the job immediately. One woman was told that there was nothing wrong with her and to go back to work, when in fact she'd partially dislocated her shoulder. She worked like that for six months, until by the time she was allowed to go to the hospital, she was permanently disabled.

Human Rights: Ignoring the Freedom of Association
The right to form trade unions has been recognized as a Human Right under the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet it has been repeatedly ignored by Smithfield Packing. From the first attempt to organize in 1993 through today, Smithfield has met workers' attempts to organize with tactics that include racism, violence, and intimidation.

Smithfield in Tar Heel, along with one of its subcontractors, has been found liable of physically assaulting employees, falsely arresting employees, firing or threatening termination for engaging in protected, concerted activities (like organizing), threatening employees with arrest by federal immigration authorities, and threatening bodily harm.
Following the vote count in 1997, one pro-union worker and one union organizer were dragged out of the plant, beaten up, insulted with racial slurs, handcuffed and arrested. The two successfully sued Smithfield and their Chief of Security, Danny Priest, under the federal civil rights law. However, Smithfield's hostile anti-labor policies of intimidation and brutality have continued.

Intimidation: the Smithfield Company Police Between 2000 and 2005, Smithfield's Tar Heel plant was the only meatpacking plant in the United States to have its own private police force. Under a North Carolina state law, Smithfield established a Company Police Department, with sworn officers who carried guns and had the power of arrest on plant property. However, after a public pressure campaign waged by the union and community allies, the company police forced failed to achieve recertification in June 2005, and since that time it has been operating as an in-plant security force.
Nevertheless, during its five years of existence, the Smithfield Company Police arrested at least 90 workers. Though many of the charges were dropped, arrested employees were forced to hire attorneys and pay court costs, and many were fired. In one of the most high profile of these cases, the police arrested a married couple while they were working at their jobs in the plant, handcuffed them in front of their coworkers, and accused them of attempting to burn down the plant. The couple was transferred to the county jail and ultimately charged with felony arson. The charges against them were eventually dropped, but the impact of this incident on these people's lives remains.
Danny Priest who currently is Smithfield's Corporate Security Director and formally the Chief of the Companies Police Force, and others like him at Smithfield continually intimidated employees. In fact, the Human Rights Watch found that the actions of the Smithfield Company Police represented the "conflict of interest that can arise when company employees can exercise state police powers while responding to the employer's directives and interests."

Racism, Discrimination, and Worker Abuse: Racial Abuse at Smithfield
When New York Times' reporter Charlie LeDuff went undercover as a worker at Smithfield, he found that "Whites, blacks, American Indians, and Mexicans, they all have their separate stations." Smithfield exploits racial divides to separate workers and keep them from unionizing.
Immigrant workers are especially vulnerable at Smithfield. The number of Latino immigrant workers at Smithfield continues to rise faster than any other group there. Smithfield has continued to threaten Latino workers about immigration and deportation when they stand up for their rights.
Latino workers are also hit hardest by being denied compensation when injured. Because of lack of English skills or understanding of worker's rights in the U.S., many Latinos have been manipulated into thinking they cannot claim compensation for their injuries when they should have.
Nevertheless, on May 1, 2006, thousands of immigrant workers from Smithfield and neighboring plants joined together to march in support of immigration reform. Despite the company's attempts to open the plant that day, not enough workers showed up for work to operate fully.