HAMPTON, Va. (May. 10, 2018) —Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications Assistant Professor Lynn Waltz officially kicked off her book tour by appearing on a local television show to promote her acclaimed book, “Hog Wild: The Battle for Workers’ Rights at the World’s Largest Slaughterhouse.” Waltz also has several scheduled radio station interviews and will be appearing at bookstores in the Washington, D.C. area, with several stops on the East Coast.
Waltz initially was gathering information for a freelance article profiling Smithfield Foods for Virginia Business magazine. While reporting, Waltz began discovering dark anecdotes about how the company was breaking national labor laws and was in the throes of investigations and legal battles with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), specifically over labor disputes at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, N.C., processing plant -- the subject of the book.
“This book is about the largest union win of the 21st century,” said Waltz. “It featured the largest meat packer, Smithfield Foods against the UFCW, the largest meat packing union. And it took place in Tar Heel N.C., which is the world’s largest slaughterhouse, where they slaughter 32,000 hogs a day.”
Waltz first wrote about the struggle for Virginia Business. She then wrote an article for a July 2005 Portfolio magazine story, outlining horrifying working conditions and focusing on the company’s aversion to unionizing the plant. She continued to investigate, first for her master of fine arts thesis, then to compile into a book.
Waltz also discussed the strength shown by Sherri Bufkin, a senior manager at the Tar Heel plant who was mysteriously fired and then turned on Smithfield, becoming a major witness for the NLRB in its investigation. Waltz spent countless hours conducting rambling interviews with Bufkin, revealing corrupt practices that were met with a smear campaign by United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Eventually, workers were successful in voting to unionize the plant in 2008.
“She (Bufkin) really inspired me,” said Waltz. “She went to work and tried to do what was right. She was toeing the company line. She was firing workers who supported the union, illegally. That is until she decided to be the key witness for the government against Smithfield Foods. This took tremendous courage on her part and I really admire her.”
One early book review notes: “Waltz’s examination of Smithfield Foods’ campaigns against unionism in the modern meat industry is vivid and haunting. Her book offers compelling insight into the fate of the modern American labor movement and, crucially, evidence for why the United States is increasingly divided between rich and poor.”
“Hog Wild: The Battle for Workers’ Rights at the World’s Largest Slaughterhouse” goes on sale May 15. The book will be available for purchase at Prince Books, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For additional information visit LynnWaltz.com