[Excerpted from Introduction by Gene Daniels] The story of Rath Packing Company of Waterloo, Iowa, is alternately a model of the American Dream and the story of a dream turned nightmare.
Started in Iowa in 1891 with a work force of 22, Rath employed 8,000 people at its peak. In 1944, workers at Rath slaughtered 12,000 hogs, cattle and sheep a day. It was the largest and most modern packing house in the world.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, however, Rath's management failed to make several strategic moves. They failed to market Rath's products to supermarkets, thinking "Mom & Pop" stores would remain the backbone of community grocery shopping. Little attention was paid to the growing conglomeration within the meatpacking industry itself And, management failed to re-invest in new machinery and processes and failed to build a new facility like the single-story buildings being constructed by competitors. All these factors combined to provide Rath with short-term prof its and long-term headaches. By the 1970s the company was in deep trouble.
Redmon, Gene; Mueller, Chuck; and Daniels, Gene
"A Lost Dream: Worker Control at Rath Packing,"
Labor Research Review:
6, Article 10.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/lrr/vol1/iss6/10