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Kenny Dobbins

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by Overtime, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Overtime

    Overtime Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 22, 2003 Messages: 13,986 Likes Received: 311
    Kenny Dobbins was a Monfort employee for almost sixteen years. He was born in Keokuk, Iowa, had a tough childhood, and an abusive stepfather, left home at age thirteen, went in and out of various schools, never learned to read, did various odd jobs, and wound up at the Monfort slaughterhouse in Grand Island, Nebraska. He started working there in 1979, right after the company bought it from Swift. He was twenty-four. He worked in the shipping department at first, hauling boxes that weighed as much as 120 pounds. Kenny could handle it, though. He was a big man, muscular, and six--foot-five, and nothing in his life had ever been easy.

    One day Kenny heard someone yell, "Watch Out!" then turned around and saw a ninety-pound box falling from and upper level of the shipping department. Kenny caught the box with one arm, but the momentum threw him against a conveyer belt, and the metal rim of the belt pierced his lower back. The company doctor bandaged Kenny's back and said the pain was just a pulled muscle. Kenny never filed for workers' comp, stayed home for a few days, then returned to work. He had a wife and three children to support. For the next few months, he was in terrible pain. "It hurt so fucking bad you wouldn't believe it," he told me. He saw another doctor, got a second opinion. The new doctor said Kenny had a pair of severely herniated disks. Kenny had back surgery, spent a month in the hospital, got sent to a paint clinic when the operation didn't work. His marriage broke up amid the stress and financial difficulty. Fourteen months after the injury, Kenny returned to the slaughterhouse. "GIVE UP AFTER BACK SURGERY? NOT KEN DOBBINS!!" a Monfort newsletter proclaimed. "Ken has learned how to handle the rigors of working in a packing plant and is trying to help other do the same. Thanks, Ken, and keep up the good work."

    Kenny felt a strong loyalty to Monfort. He could not read, possessed few skills other than his strength, and the company had still given him a job. When Monfort decided to reopen its Greeley plant with a non-union work force, Kenny volunteered to go there and help. He did not think highly of labor unions. His supervisors told him that unions had been responsible for shutting down meatpacking plants all over the country. When the UFCW tried to organize the Greeley slaughterhouse, Kenny became an active and outspoken member of an anti-union group.

    At the Grand Island facility, Kenny had been restricted to light duty after his injury. But his supervisor in Greeley said that old restrictions didn't apply in his new job. Soon Kenny was doing tough, physical labor once again, wielding a knife and grabbing forty- to fifty-pound pieces of beef off a table. When the pain became unbearable, he was transferred to ground beef, then to rendering. According to a former manager at the Greeley plant, Monfort was trying to get rid of Kenny, trying to make his work so unpleasant that he'd quit. Kenny didn't realize it. "He still believes in his heart that people are honest and good," the former manager said about Kenny. "And he's wrong."

    As part of the job in rendering, Kenny sometimes had to climb into gigantic blood tanks and gut bins, reach to the bottom of them with his long arms, and unclog the drains. One day he was unexpectedly called to work over the weekend. There had been a problem with Salmonellacontamination. The plant needed to be disinfected, and some of the maintenance workers had refused to do it. In his street clothes, Kenny began cleaning the place, climbing into tanks and spraying a liquid chlorine mix. Chlorine is a hazardous chemical that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, causing a litany of health problems. Workers who spray it need to wear protective gloves, safety goggles, a self-contained respirator, and full coveralls. Kenny's supervisor gave him a paper dust mask to wear, but it quickly disintegrated after eight hours of working with the chlorine in unventilated areas, Kenny went home and fell ill. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in an oxygen tent. His lungs had been burned by the chemicals. His body was covered in blisters. Kenny spent a month in the hospital.

    Kenny eventually recovered from the overexposure to chlorine, but it left his chest feeling raw, make him susceptible to colds and sensitive to chemical aromas. He went back to work at the Greeley plant. He had remarried, didn't know what other kind of work to do, still felt loyal to the company. He was assigned to an early morning shift. He had to drive an old truck from one part of the slaughterhouse complex to another. The truck was filled with leftover scraps of meat. The headlights and the wipers didn't work. The windshield was filthy and cracked. One cold, dark morning in the middle of winter, Kenny became disoriented while driving. He stopped the truck, opened the door, got out to see where he was--and was struck by a train. It knocked his glasses off, threw him up in the air, and knocked both of his work boots off. The train was moving slowly, or he would've been killed. Kenny somehow made it back to the plant, barefoot and bleeding from deep gashes in his back and his face. He spent two weeks at the hospital, then went back to work.

    One day, Kenny was in rendering and saw a worker about to stick his head into a pre-breaker machine, a device that uses hundreds of small hammers to pulverize gristle and bone into a fine powder. The worker had just turned the machine off, but Kenny knew the hammers inside were still spinning. It takes fifteen minutes for the machine to shut down completely. Kenny yelled, "Stop!" but the worker didn't hear him. And so Kenny ran across the room, grabbed the man by the seat of his pants, and pulled him away from the machine and instant before it would have pulverized him. To honor this act of bravery, Monfort gave Kenny an award for "Outstanding Achievement in CONCERN FOR FELLOW WORKERS." The award was a paper certificate, signed by his supervisor and the plant safety manager.

    Kenny later broke his leg stepping into a hole in the slaughterhouse's concrete floor. On another occasion he shattered and ankle, an injury that required surgery and the insertion of five steel pins. Now Kenny had to wear a metal brace on one leg in order to walk, an elaborate, spring-loaded brace that cost $2,000. Standing for long periods caused him great pain. He was given a job recycling old knives at the plant. Despite his many injuries, the job required him to climb up and down three flights of narrow stairs carrying garbage bags filled with knives. In December of 1995 Kenny felt a sharp pain in his chest while lifting some boxes. He thought it was a heart attack. His union steward took him to see the nurse, who said it was just a pulled muscle and sent Kenny home. He was indeed having a massive heart attack. A friend rushed Kenny to a nearby hospital. A stent was inserted in his heart, and the doctors told Kenny he was lucky to be alive.

    While Kenny Dobbins was recuperating, Monfort fired him. Despite the fact that Kenny had been with the company for almost sixteen years, despite the fact that he was first in seniority at the Greeley plant, that he'd cleaned blood tanks with his bare hands, fought the union, done whatever the company had asked him to do, suffering injuries that would've killed weaker men, nobody from Monfort called him with the news. Nobody even bothered to write him. Kenny learned that he'd been fired when his payments to the company health insurance plan kept being returned by the post office. He called Monfort repeatedly to find out what was going on, and a sympathetic clerk in the claims office finally told Kenny that the checks were being returned because he was no longer a Monfort employee. When I asked company spokesmen to comment on the accuracy of Kenny's story, they would neither confirm nor deny any of the details.

    Today Kenny is in poor health. His heart is permanently damaged. His immune system seems shot. His back hurts, his ankle hurts, and every so often he coughs up blood. He is unable to work at any job. His wife, Clara--who’s half-Latina and half -Cheyenne, and looks like a younger sister of Cher's--was working as a nursing home attendant when Kenny had the heart attack. Amid the stress of his illness, she developed a serious kidney ailment. She is unemployed and recovering from a kidney transplant.

    As I sat in the living room of their Greeley home, its walls decorated with paintings of wolves, Denver Broncos memorabilia, and an American flag, Kenny and Clara told me about their financial condition. After almost sixteen years on the job, Kenny did not get any pension from Monfort. The company challenged his workers' comp claim and finally agreed--three years after the initial filing--to pay him a settlement of $35,000. Fifteen percent of that money went to Kenny's lawyer, and the rest is long gone. Some months Kenny has to hock things to get money for Clara's medicine. They have two teenage children and live on Social Security payments. Kenny's health insurance, which costs more than $600 a month, is about to run out. His anger at Monfort, his feelings of betrayal, are of truly biblical proportions.

    "They used me to the point where I had no body parts left to give," Kenny said, struggling to maintain his composure. "Then they just tossed me into the trash can." Once strong and powerfully built, he now walks with difficulty, tires easily, and feels useless, as though his life were over. He is forty-six years old.




    Excerpt from Fast Food Nation. I highly suggest reading this book. I dont know why i typed and posted this whole chapter, I just thought it was something people should read...please, treat this like an "rip" thread and dont post bullshit and such....thanks


    *Edit, he isnt dead. I just want this to be kept serious
     
  2. AORAone

    AORAone Veteran Member

    Joined: Feb 7, 2003 Messages: 6,460 Likes Received: 32
    r.i.p

    damn. shoulda got that workmans comp. shit sucks. rip kenny dobbins.

    damn man, that is indeed a long type.
     
  3. GucciCondom

    GucciCondom Veteran Member

    Joined: Jul 29, 2003 Messages: 5,558 Likes Received: 168
    Thats fucking wild. I wanna cop this book now.
     
  4. Overtime

    Overtime Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 22, 2003 Messages: 13,986 Likes Received: 311
    well, well, well worth it
     
  5. GucciCondom

    GucciCondom Veteran Member

    Joined: Jul 29, 2003 Messages: 5,558 Likes Received: 168
    Know anywhere I could download or read it online? Aint got a whip so I doubt I'll ever make it to the book store.
     
  6. Overtime

    Overtime Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 22, 2003 Messages: 13,986 Likes Received: 311
    some bump action
     
  7. Tre$Loco$

    Tre$Loco$ Member

    Joined: Sep 15, 2002 Messages: 623 Likes Received: 0
    That shit made me want to go on a shooting spree and cry like a girl. It totally ruined my day but Im really glad I read it. I've been meaning to pick up Fast Food Nation for a while now.
     
  8. Overtime

    Overtime Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 22, 2003 Messages: 13,986 Likes Received: 311
    bump, i mean, yes, bump
     
  9. Poop Man Bob

    Poop Man Bob Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Nov 16, 2000 Messages: 10,259 Likes Received: 18
    Great book. Highly recommended.
     
  10. gfreshsushi

    gfreshsushi Senior Member

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003 Messages: 2,244 Likes Received: 1
    best book i've ever been assigned to read in an english class, hands down.
     
  11. Poop Man Bob

    Poop Man Bob Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Nov 16, 2000 Messages: 10,259 Likes Received: 18
    Fuck that .. you dissect human bodies in anatomy and read Fast Food Nation for english class? Your high school has it's shit together.
     
  12. gfreshsushi

    gfreshsushi Senior Member

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003 Messages: 2,244 Likes Received: 1
    nah, fast food nation was in a class i took in college a few semesters ago.
     
  13. Poop Man Bob

    Poop Man Bob Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Nov 16, 2000 Messages: 10,259 Likes Received: 18
    Ah, nevermind then. Fuck your high school.
     
  14. gfreshsushi

    gfreshsushi Senior Member

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003 Messages: 2,244 Likes Received: 1
    i'll second that. the only noteworthy thing that happened in the three years i spent there was the "cutting open dead people for a grade" field trip, and that lasted half a day. not a good track record.
     
  15. lunchbocks

    lunchbocks New Jack

    Joined: Oct 2, 2002 Messages: 64 Likes Received: 0
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