Lukewarm Take #7: Businesses and Labor Violations

Posted on May 19, 2021

Recently I’ve been reading through No Shortcuts: Organzing for Power in the New Gilded Aged. Chapter 5 on the organization effort in a Smithfield Foods facility was appalling and, unfortunately, somewhat unsurprising given the history of labor in America. Throughout the chapter violent acts from management are described across multiple union vote attempts ranging from intimidation, retaliatory firings, and beatings of pro-union workers in the facility. Note, the earliest instances of this were in the 90s. The 1990s.

Labor power is in a truly poor state in this country today and obviously the state backs the owners and managers over the worker in the majority of cases. Returning to the Smithfield Foods example, the NLRB took years in some cases to act on issues, and the consequences for Smithfield were minimal, essentially telling the company that they had a green light to continue inflicting their workers with violence.

The Take

When a company commits acts like Smithfield did for years against its employees, and really well before it gets literally, physically violent, there should be an immediate response. Zero strikes. At the point that the company hinders organizing the means of production should be lifted from their hands and handed directly to the workers. The workers already run the business so this would even have minimal effects on outside consumers.

Taken another step further, those owners and managers should not be given the opportunity to do harm to others later. They could still own and operate businesses but should not be allowed to be an operator of a business that has employees without an owning stake in the business and some say in its direction.


Violent owners and managers should have the means of production taken from them and the workers using those means should be given those tools.