Friday, February 2, 2007

Meatless In Kansas City

Meatpacking was once a major industry in Kansas City, providing thousands of union jobs with decent wages and benefits. It was of particular importance to the African-American community. The big packinghouses–there were once five of them--were closed by the 1970s. Now the last tiny remnant of that heritage is being shut down as well. The plant in Kansas City, Kansas, which processes lunch meats from scraps remaining from boxed cuts sent off to grocery stores from other plants, has long struggled with an identity crisis through several ownership changes. It’s been known as Armour, Morrell, and ConAgra, until Smithfield Foods recently picked it up with the rest of ConAgra’s meat plants. Not fitting in with the rural shift of the industry little investment has been made in the facility in more than a decade. Employment had declined to only 280 workers. Smithfield has announced it is pulling the plug. Salaried employees will be offered transfers to other Smithfield operations. Floor workers are on their own.

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