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Life and Death of the American Worker

The Immigrants Taking on America's Largest Meatpacking Company

About The Book

Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, an explosive exposé of the toxic labor practices at the largest meatpacking company in America and the immigrant workers who had the courage to fight back.

On June 27, 2011, a deadly chemical accident took place inside the Tyson Foods chicken processing plant in Springdale, Arkansas, where the company is headquartered. The company quickly covered it up although the spill left their employees injured, sick, and terrified. Over the years, Arkansas-based reporter Alice Driver was able to gain the trust of the immigrant workers who survived the accident. They rewarded her persistence by giving her total access to their lives.

Having spent hours in their kitchens and accompanying them to doctor’s appointments, Driver has memorialized in these pages the dramatic lives of husband and wife Plácido and Angelina, who liked to spend weekends planting seeds from their native El Salvador in their garden; father and son Martín and Gabriel, who migrated from Mexico at different times and were trying to patch up their relationship; and many other immigrants who survived the chemical accident in Springdale that day.

During the course of Alice’s reporting, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the community, and the workers were forced to continue production in unsafe conditions, watching their colleagues get sick and die one by one. These essential workers, many of whom only speak Spanish and some of whom are illiterate—all of whom suffer the health consequences of Tyson’s negligence—somehow found the strength and courage to organize and fight back, culminating in a lawsuit against Tyson Foods, the largest meatpacking company in America.

Richly detailed, fiercely honest, and deeply reported, Life and Death of the American Worker will forever change the way we think about the people who prepare our food.

About The Author

Photograph by Luis Garvan

Alice Driver is a J. Anthony Lukas and James Beard Award–winning writer from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Driver is the author of Life and Death of the American WorkerMore or Less Dead, and the forthcoming Artists All Around, a memoir about her family’s relationship with Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are. She is also the translator of Abecedario de Juárez. She lives in the Ozark Mountains.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/One Signal Publishers (September 3, 2024)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668078846

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