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April 8, 1984

MISSISSIPPI TODAY
(From National Catholic News Service)

Drama Details Struggle For Unionization

NEW YORK (NC) – In this day of government deregulation and business retrenchment, it may be instructive to consider the shocking history of unfair labor practices and injurious working conditions that once prevailed in American industry. Looking back at an era in which workers were afraid to stand together against exploitation by unscrupulous employers is "The Killing Floor," a dramatization airing TUESDAY, April 10, 9 p.m. on ETV.

The setting is the Chicago stockyards during World War I, a place which has become the battleground on which union organizers have to struggle not only against the meat-packing industry but also their fellow workers.

Events are seen through the eyes of the rank-and-file, a multilingual pool of immigrant laborers from Poland, Germany, Ireland and elsewhere, as well as a growing number of black migrants from the South.

At the center of this labor drama is Frank Custer (Damien Leake), a black sharecropper who gets a job sweeping the “killing floor” in a slaughterhouse where the union protects him from an arbitrary foreman. Soon, he too joins the union and eventually becomes an organizer.

During the boom years of the war, Frank does well enough to bring his family to Chicago, where they settle down to life of modest comfort. read more>>
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