Meatpacking: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Meatpacking: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The pandemic has thrown into high relief some of the longstanding issues surrounding working conditions in meatpacking facilities. John Oliver explains why greater oversight is needed, and how we can go about getting it.

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96 Responses

  1. The Lightning Round says:

    Just rename this show to:

    John Oliver: exposing American industry one week at a time

    • Rick Simon says:

      We do. They are just not as serious or asinine.

    • You Ain't Getting My Name says:

      @Moritz Richter The only way to solve the underlying problem is to eliminate the human race and that won’t happen anytime soon

    • You Ain't Getting My Name says:

      @NaCl3 You know people are responsible for those things, not nature

    • Magnus Nordström says:

      @Vlad Cirus Oh yes, no doubt. Possibly not quite as bad as the whole corn subsidation and bussing in illegal workers situation they got going on in the US, though.

    • Lizardguy NA says:

      @Moritz Richter Are you saying it’s not obvious what the underlying problem is? Because it’s literally at the heart of every segment.

  2. Kathryn Myrick says:

    Whenever a company describes its employees as “family,” you know something’s up.

    • Andreas says:

      Oh no, step-company, what are you doing?

    • Kaitensatsuma says:

      Unless it’s literally a family, and even then…

    • Unsere Dreiwolf says:

      Run like a mob “family”, amirite?

    • J.G. McBell says:

      Eh. That’s just not true. My wife works for a small firm of about 25 people, and they call themselves a “firmily”.

      And they have an environment that reflects that. The pay is phenomenal compared to market rates, for everyone. They pay for our entire families health insurance, no cost to us. 401k match up to 10%. 5 weeks of vacation every year. They pay for monthly massages and have a designated “quiet room” if the day gets to be too much. No crazy overtime hours, at 5:30 it looks like a bomb went off in that building, it’s completely empty.

      They hire the best workers, treat them well, and guess what? They work hard. Nobody ever leaves. Ever. No one has ever left there since she started 3 years ago. New hires are expansionary roles.

      When you treat people well, they want to show up and do well for you. Most businesses don’t realize that investments in your people can comeback 10-fold.

    • goblue193 says:

      I work for one of those companies and we are underpaid based on industry standard. The workers also tend to be cult like at these places

  3. Haedox says:

    nothing is more slimy than your boss who makes more money than you… calling you “family”

    • silversonic99 says:

      That’s pretty much what every youtuber does though….

    • Alexander Blattler says:

      Actually it’s pretty much appropriate – or is that just me?
      I was waiting all throughout the video waiting for the punchline “[company apparently not interested in physical harm to employees] […] actually, given the circumstances, I guess they are indeed a family”

      But it never really came 🤷🏽‍♂️

    • Marduk says:

      Yes an employee should make more/equal amount of money than the boss cause he has all the risk… oh wait no, he doesn’t.

    • J Globetrotter says:

      Compared to this I have fantastic working conditions and I still hate being called “family” by my bosses.
      Naw, my family is at home, so I am clocking out now to go spend time with them. I will not be logging in to work email or making work calls. Have a nice day.

    • Mungeons says:

      @Purple Lion Politics And History I’m sorry, who are you?

  4. ShenaniTims says:

    I love that the one host notes, “I get people need jobs…” without pointing out that the plant owners should be held to account for the horrid conditions, not the workers for having to do that in order to survive.

    • Okkie Trooy says:

      @Jeronimo Tamayo The extreme pressure is to provide their stakeholders with more millions. Realistic fines will therefore help. Prohibiting the waivers will help. Enough inspectors with enough tools to mentally do something helps. Making the owners and managers personally liable for preventable wrok related injured helps.

    • Kristian Lajkep says:

      @TheDapperDolphin The thing is, by removing, or constraining the “shitty” jobs you don’t create good jobs. All you do is you take an (admittedly shitty) work away from a person who very likely has no other option. One man’s humanitarian approach is another man’s cruelty.

    • Pat Doyle says:

      @Eli Henley
      Yeah, when I worked in one of these plants in 1982, conditions were not bad, and they took safety seriously, and at 20 years old, I started at $7.85/hr, when I believe minimum wage was around $3 or $3.25. For a guy trying to earn money to return to college, that was high pay. Heck, that was a decent living wage in 1982.

    • Oliver Surpless says:

      @silversonic99 Indeed, and it’s almost a good thing that Elizabeth Warren didn’t become the nominee, as that miscreant crowing on about “what about the money I paid? Am I going to get that back?!” in response to student debt cancellation policies would’ve been front and center the whole rest of 2020.

      That character is “I suffered/15 miles in the snow to school everyday, so everyone else has to suffer too!” personified.

      After all, Joe the Plumber did quite well circa 2010 for Obamacare protests (despite not being a plumber) so why not run the same tired cultural wedge issue again? Conservative supporters certainly can’t tell the difference…

    • Johannes Franck says:

      Americans are fat because food especially meat is terrible cheap, to produce so cheap you have to take every employees dignity. Food needs it’s price and this price is not 99 cent for hamburgers…

  5. FrodoCruz says:

    I find it fascinating how almost every problem starts with “it’s controlled by these few companies” in a country that big with over 300 million people.

    • Get 2 says:

      The mecca the Boomers created with their ignorantly blissful consumerist mindset. Now their graveyards of littered, dilapidated malls rusty, outdated ‘70s/‘80s shopping centers are pretty much all we’re left with, as everything they hoped and dreamed of became controlled by a handful of corporations who gleefully exported most of “America’s greatness” out to another third-world country to increase profit margins.

      Capitalism: the failed experiment. The aliens/god are watching. . .

    • DiahRhiaJones says:


    • intense79nick says:

      @mori1bund Yup I agree. It sometimes feels like trying to regulate a black hole too when the regulations in place are ignored with crap like “put this box over your head”. Like John points out that it’s better financial sense to ignore regulations and pay the occasional fines than to pay to uphold the regulation to begin with and that HAS to change.

    • Adam Tadros says:

      Economies of scale baby gorilla

    • Wolf'Jarl Gr'Bane says:

      @DiahRhiaJones Makes perfect sence and here is why (You push your crap on others though you yourself do no Real research) Demand for vegan food goes up now factories get involved. Demand gets higher because ignorance spreads faster than the train of reason so now they higher even more workers add pealers to injury tool blame and do I really have to paint a picture here?

  6. Starboy86 says:

    When he said “family,” he meant in the Charles Manson sense.

  7. Joe Ringo says:

    When an employer says “it’s like family here “, what they are really saying is “working here will probably leave you with some serious psychological trauma “

  8. Fran Wilson says:

    The Tyson betting pool demonstrates that their employees are pawns – not ‘family.’

  9. Kangler the Toad Slayer says:

    a whole episode on packing meat without a single joke about adam driver, im proud.

    • Nicholas Farrell says:

      Yeah, I’m noticing a distinct lack of obvious jokes in this episode. C’mon John, you know you want to.

    • Nicolás Salazar says:

      We need to abolish animal agriculture as we know it. It’s horrific it truly is the biggest mafia and cancer we as a society are getting sick of while the ultra billionaires of the world, the texan prototypical sexist “macho” rancher conservative psychopath gets every single day richer and richer. This is NOT tho, an “anti-capitalist” rant, I LOVE capitalism and entrepreneurship, I just think these massive corporation conglomerates who are highly monopolistic are getting away with EVERYTHING. The climate suffers when we eat meat, the workers, our health, global health (because of zoonotic diseases and pandemics), it is completely insane and has to stop. We can get protein in smarter ways, we can still have some less sentient animals as food such as crickets or acuiculture/acuaponics raised fish which do NOT harm the oceans. This can solve global hunger, improve factory conditions, can be applied in a vertical farming, indoors/city farming model and along with lab grown meat and vegan substitutes we can build a safer, CLEANER, healthier and more ethical food system that benefits the earth and can feed even 10billion more people. As we know, in mars there won’t be a plausible way to keep livestock alive, so the futuristic way is indeed to eat less meat, just ask astronauts about it.

    • Unsere Dreiwolf says:

      “Tenderize me, you prime grade loin”.

    • BrainySnacks says:

      @Nicolás Salazar wrong thread?

    • Bobby Susser says:

      @Nicolás Salazar you argue that this can “solve global” hunger but we already can, the amount of food America and many other nations waste could easily feed the hungry. The FDA has some of the craziest standards for food and when they’re not met absurd amounts of food can be thrown away. Also there’s probably not going to be any justifiable end to eating animals that would actually make companies stop producing meat. So rather than try to win impossible up hill battle and just end all consumption of sentient animals, I think we should just aim to create less in humane facilities for processing meat. Both for actual human workers and the slaughterhouses. I just don’t think you’re argument is feasible when all the money and power is on the side of those who profit off of the current meat industry

  10. Toast says:

    John Oliver consistently makes me care about issues I never thought about. He is a voice we can trust for sure.

  11. N Hietala says:

    “Put a box on your head” is among the most ridiculous things I’ve heard today. They’re literally trying to fool the OSHA inspector the same way I rob a store in Skyrim.

  12. Joy Haig says:

    To think nothing really has changed since Upton Sinclair wrote the book “The Jungle” is truly depressing.

    • mko says:

      Wikipedia: Originally published: November 4, 1905.

    • Friends of The Amazon Jungle says:

      That book should be renamed “the greed stricken cities” as an American I live in the Amazon Jungle and let me tell you in the past 3 years here, I’ve never seen an shit like that 😂😂😂

    • lets ficks says:

      @The Real Deal you obviously haven’t read the jungle

    • lets ficks says:

      Sinclair wrote the jungle to try and improve the rights of workers, but readers mostly thought ‘holy shit that’s gross, i eat that meat, we need food safety standards’ so we got the FDA but nothing changed for the workers.

    • Candice Frost says:

      @The Real Deal if by that, you mean companies just got sneakier about how to break codes and degrade both their workers and the safety of their product, then yeah.

  13. Scott Plumer says:

    The fact that the talking head newscasters seemed more concerned about the worker peeing while he was on the line, rather than the fact that he couldn’t take a proper pee break, just proves that TV news outlets are just corporate shills.

    • TheScholar74 says:

      I don’t think the idea of workers not being allowed to use the restroom even occurs to some people especially white collar types.

    • Mr_Cheeks 4now says:

      Yeah that’s what happens when people form opinions without context

    • I am Nef says:

      John Oliver did say, “[the worker] was put in a position where he may have felt like he had to.” The way he leaves it makes me feel that it needs more attention too, but given his sarcastic delivery, maybe that’s the point? I hope.

    • Paola E says:

      It proves people blame people and never the corporation that should be blamed.

  14. StarvedRock 314 says:

    Fun fact: despite being called cheese heads, the Green Bay Packers are actually named for meat packers!

  15. LowKey ID says:

    The meat is going down the conveyor belt covered in piss and panic shit and adrenaline-laced blood, and you worry about a guy taking his gloves off to take a leak.

  16. CJChicP says:

    I hate that people act like “this isn’t our country” due to their own ignorance of EXACTLY how the US is. Welcome to the party ma’am!

  17. Red Green says:

    “They do seem to care about the physical well-being of SOME of their workers”
    Incoming clips of white people doing yoga
    [edit: yep, I was right]

    • LoveYourWhiteness #blessed says:

      ​@Tobias Ommer when and why would factory workers do yoga? Why is White people in a White country having better jobs than the foreigners who’ve been allowed to flood the country in recent years bad? Other than it demonstrating the speed of population replacement.

    • Dustin H says:

      Nothing says you care about your employees like telling them Mindfulness Meditation will solve their problems. (MM is good practice, just not the resolution to workplace dissatisfaction)

    • LoveYourWhiteness #blessed says:

      @Daisy C read me response to Tobias, honey. It’s not that hard to understand.

    • Hoopdy says:

      @LoveYourWhiteness #blessed Christ, the amount of denial you are in is beyond comprehensible.

    • Leo Lacerda says:

      @LoveYourWhiteness #blessed man look at your name even just say youre racist and xenophobic and get out honestly

  18. Shames Ash says:

    It’s so nice that since Trump’s loss John moved from “how shitty is everything in politics” to “how shitty is everything else besides politics that we didn’t have a chance to cover for about four years”

    • J Globetrotter says:

      @Joel Hicks Biden can’t cancel student debt unless he has funding to cover it, which would have to come from Congress. Also Biden never ran on the promise of student debt forgiveness, so it’s questionable that that’s really what people elected him to do.

    • Shames Ash says:

      I mean. Now we are talking about politics in much broader sense than “stupid Watergate” – I loved this piece though

    • LoveYourWhiteness #blessed says:

      @Shames Ash it’s almost like he was a propagandist for the status quo for four years and now he’s… still that. But you’re refreshed. lol

    • Brandon Cary says:

      @LoveYourWhiteness #blessed Uhhh no? One of the good things Obama actually did was regulate the EPA & strengthen environmental policy, Trump gutted it during his term. This goes back before either of them though.
      Texas is on its own energy grid, has 1 or 2 companies managing the utilities in it’s state, & can charge whatever it deems necessary because of antiregulation going back to the 1980s.

      Texas has been its own little island for a long time because despite having no federal tax & being their own energy grid, they take in one of the largest amounts of federal aid in the country all while avoiding federal regulation because of republican policy dating back decades. The current crisis there is directly the result of their state government hating the federal government holding them to any federal standards, not because of green energy wind turbines or Biden for once, not even Trump has much to do with it, this is all local level stuff.

    • mori1bund says:

      @LoveYourWhiteness #blessed Texas left the federal energy grid/became their own energy grid to escape the regulations that would’ve prohibited exactly that disaster they have now. They didn’t want to spend the money to update their grid, although they’ve been warned for years that something like that would happen.
      So either you’re lying or completely clueless – in any case: STFU!!

  19. Klaudia Quotenfrau says:

    “we are a family here and can talk about everything” around the world, code for: we don’t want a union, don’t you dare to ask for more rights!

    • Alex Meyjes says:

      trust but verify. I am a big fan Mr John Oliver , but please remind people to get more information before they join in . I have , and here Oliver is right in the particulars ! What can be done about it? NO IDEA

    • Ed H says:

      @Alex Meyjes There needs to be unions.

    • Blacknecro13 says:

      union, yes and the government needs to start actually regulating things better instead of letting corporations run amok. It’s obvious we can’t let corporation police themselves.

  20. Eduardo Souza says:

    I’m very convinced: every rich person is a fucking psychopath.

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