John McCulloch was hired as an assistant general manager at United Beef Packers (UBP). After working for a few months, he felt that the job was nothing he expected; exploitation of immigrant workers, the company’s sole focus on profit maximizing, poor sanitation and worker safety, and also unethical documentation of medical records. To complicate matters, McCulloch is left with the responsibility a worker injured on the job because UBP does not want to pay for the medical bills.
What Changed to Cause the Ethical Issues?
UBP was a very successful company with clean working environments and higher wages the U.S. manufacturing average. However, with the recession in the late 1970s, UBP founder Ken Hill made a choice to sustain profits by cutting wages. Hill purchased a local slaughterhouse and fired the unionized workers immediately to hire immigrants and poorly educated locals. This led the union to strike and Hill hired “scabs” in the meantime. Some unionized workers pretended to work as scabs and committed acts of sabotage. Irritated, Hill shut the plant down and reopened it six months later without a union; staffed with immigrants and new employees. In the mid-1980s, Wholly Pure Foods Inc acquired UBP.
Through using Mexican radio for advertising, many immigrants jumped at the opportunity to earn more hourly than they did daily in Mexico. Instead of picking seasonal fruits and vegetables, they worked in a meat plant until they are unable to do so. With these immigrant workers, the meat industry wage average increase has been surpassed by the U.S. manufacturing average since 1983 and is 25-40 percent higher. A union does not exist because the turnover rate is too high to maintain a stable union.
By 1980, the top four beef packers processed 20 percent of the beef in the U.S and 82 percent by 2000. Since 1980, line speed in cattle plants have increased from 175 cattle an hour to 400 cattle an hour although the beef consumption in the U.S. has not fluctuated since 1988.
John McCulloch is an assistant general manager, and stakeholder, at UBP in charge of operations such as working with supervisors and handling worker issues. McCulloch is dissatisfied with his working environment; has depression, no appetite, and stressing about his work and the impact it has on his family. McCulloch is faced with a dilemma to terminate an employee’s contract because the employee, Bobby Vasquez, has medical bills that UBP does not want to pay for anymore.
Bobby Vasquez has worked for UBP for many years and is a stakeholder involved in this issue. He has had many injuries that can be attributed to poor work safety and inadequate sanitation that has ultimately restricted him to a wheelchair.
UBP was purchased by Wholly Pure Foods Inc. (WPF) in the mid-1980s. The previous UBP owner, Ken Hill, accepted a position on the WPF board upon acquisition of UBP. The company’s reputation lay in the hands of McCulloch’s decisions because their ethical practices are clearly not up to standards. Greg Kramer is the plant general manager at UBP who has been there for four years and is a stakeholder. His only concern is “to ensure that the right amount of meat came out of the plant every day” (279).
The floor supervisors are also stakeholders of UBP. Their primary responsibility is to keep the processing line moving and keep the workers working, although they should be responsible for handling employee injuries and other tasks, too.
The American Meat Institute (AMI) and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) are both stakeholders involved. AMI represents meat packing companies and are fully supportive of them. The OSHA is the governmental regulatory body that inspects companies such as UBP.
Employees and the plant nurse are also stakeholders in the matter. Immigrant workers are exploited by UBP and practically forced to abide with whatever...