Dec 21, 2007

Pork king named Grinch of the Year

Smithfield Chairman Joseph Luter III was named the winner – or loser depending on your point of view – of the seventh annual online "Grinch of the Year" election sponsored by National Jobs with Justice that determines the national figure who does the most harm to working families.

Luter edged out American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey with 28 percent of the more than 10,000 votes cast online. Luter proved perseverance is a virtue, and his perseverance in maintaining an environment of fear and intimidation for workers earned him a nomination last year. Smithfield, which operates the largest pork slaughterhouse in the world in southeastern North Carolina, operates one of the most dangerous work sites in the United States where workers are injured, harassed, intimidated and threatened by Smithfield management, according to Jobs with Justice

Arpey earned his second place finish for his treatment of union employees. In 2003, workers gave concessions to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. Now that the company is back in the black, according to Jobs with Justice, upper-level management is reaping the benefits with millions of dollars in bonuses, but workers get nothing.

Verizon Business’ Bob Toohey took third place for his efforts to suppress worker organizing with 15 percent of the vote.

In a surprise move, United Airlines’ CEO Glenn Tilton took 13 percent of the vote as a write in candidate. The remaining votes were split among Burger King CEO John W. Chidsey, American Motion Picture and Television Producers President J. Nicholas Counter III, and a number of write-in candidates.

The 'Grinch of the Year' awards began locally with Jobs with Justice coalitions around the country highlighting the greedy Grinch in their hometowns. That tradition has remained in many areas. Paul Levy of Beth Isreal Deaconess Hospital was elected Massachusetts Grinch of the Year. Paul Dockendorff, CEO of Northwest Security Services, Inc. was elected Grinch in Martin Luter King County, WA, and Tomlinson Linen was elected Grinch of Pierce County, WA.

The South Florida chapter named Jose Infante, owner of South Florida Maintenance Inc., as their Scrooge of the Year. The chapter representatives said his company owes employees over $90,000 in back wages. His company violated the city and county living wage ordinances, so workers were forced to take him to court. SFM and the City of Miami agree the money is due--but like Scrooge not a penny has gone out.

In St. Louis, record 14,268 votes were cast, and Illinois Distributing Company was named Grinch of the Year. Despite profits so high they have built a new $15 million building and bought out a competitor distributorship, Jobs with Justice said Illinois Distributing Company has imposed a contract on its drivers that slashes pay and health care benefits.

Jobs with Justice is a national campaign for workers' rights. Around the country, local Jobs with Justice Coalitions unite labor, community, faith-based, and student organizations to build power for working people.

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