Smithfield Foods insists that boosting production at the world's largest hog slaughterhouse by nearly a million animals a year is routine. The state regulators who would issue the permit agree. But getting that permit requires a public hearing. That will create a rare stage for the union that's tried for years to organize the five thousand workers at Smithfield's plant in Tar Heel. And the union isn't going to miss a chance to point out its concerns about worker safety at Smithfield's plant in Tar Heel. Gene Bruskin, an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers union, says raising the issue at a public venue will help people understand the issues. State officials say that since the permit was last issued in 2002, there's been no water quality violations at the slaughterhouse. A decision on the permit renewal isn't expected until later this year.
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