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in Filmmaking
on Jan 5, 2008

The below was posted on Filmmaker‘s Facebook page by John Fiege, director of the documentary Mississippi Chicken, which was one of our five “Best Film Not Playing Near You” Gotham Award nominees this year. As it’s a general call for support, I’m taking the liberty of posting it here.

It’s the holiday season, and in the spirit of Christmas a major poultry company fired one of MPOWER’s board members in what appears to be a retaliatory action for his active involvement in fighting several cases of race discrimination at the plant.

MPOWER is the workers’ center that was in the early stages of formation during the production of Mississippi Chicken, and it has developed over the last few years into a vibrant center, fighting for workers’ rights and led by a board of current and former poultry workers. But MPOWER’s struggle for workers’ rights is an uphill battle against wealthy and ruthless poultry companies that do not hesitate to intimidate workers who stand up for their rights or the rights of their co-workers.

The MPOWER board member who was just fired took a leading role in fighting several cases of racial discrimination in his plant. In one instance, over a dozen African Americans who applied for a promotion were told that they failed a company-written aptitude test while other white co-workers passed the test and were given the promotion. In another instance, an African American worker was fired for failing to lock out a machine that he was working on while other white workers are not even written up for similar practices. Additionally, just this fall, the company paid back wages to a group of African American workers after it was revealed that their white co-workers in the same department were making significantly more than they were.

Like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the company appears to be making an example out of the MPOWER board member for daring to speak out against these abuses. So in the spirit of the holidays, we need you to donate to MPOWER to help support these workers. Your support will send a message to the multibillion-dollar poultry companies that they will not get away with these tactics of discrimination, intimidation and harassment.

MPOWER’s goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of January in order to hire a fulltime organizer to work with poultry workers facing harassment and to create an Emergency Assistance Fund for poultry worker leaders who are victims of retaliatory firing and workplace injuries or who experience unforeseen family emergencies.

Please go to www.mpowercenter.org today to make a donation and help MPOWER reach this goal!

Happy Holidays from the Mississippi Chicken team!

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