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John McCulloch United Beef Packers Case Solution
This case study presents some ethical issues at United Beef packers processing plant. John McCulloch holds the assistant general manager position at United Beef Packers. He has just joined the company and is unsatisfied with the overall working culture. Particularly, the management’s behavior towards employees and labor staff’s safety is unsatisfactory. Employees are induced to work for long hours without any protective measures. The working conditions are dangerous and do not fulfil the worker rights requirements. The company’s efficiency commitment and drive to accomplish the business objectives has put the workers’ safety on stake. Another ethical dilemma at this organization is that workers are induced to sign the document and waive their rights to conduct a medical checkup other than the company doctors.
Following questions are answered in this case study solution
Case Analysis for John McCulloch United Beef Packers
Bobby Vasquez (a worker at United Beef packers) has been working at this processing plant since 1970, and has sustained various serious injuries while performing his duties. The medical examination reveals that some of those serious injuries occurred due to poor safety conditions and insufficient protection tools provided by the company. Unfortunately, the company doctors have under-estimated the injuries’ nature in most of the cases. While talking to the McCulloch, Vasquez further reveals that employees are asked to use drugs to enhance efficiency. Plant managers let the contaminated meat go for sale, risking the health of mass public. Overall, the company’s sole focus is on profit-making on cost of customers’ and employees’ health and life. The McCulloch’s analysis of company’s current safety and meat quality policies are extremely poor. Lastly, the most surprising ethical issue to be found in this case study is that company has asked McCulloch to fire Vasquez because he has recently survived a heart attack, and is requiring an expensive and long recovery.
i. Key facts of the situation and its context
The case presents certain ethical dilemmas. The case study organization is violating the basic ethical principles to fairly run the business.
John McCulloch- a newly hired assistant general manager is unsatisfied with company’s attitude towards workforce
Employees are induced to work in unsafe work environment
The company doctors fairly under-estimate the injuries that occur due to unsafe work conditions
The company asks employees to use drugs to enhance efficiency
Contaminated meat is supplied in the market
The company is currently considering to fire Vasquez who is old employee just because he suffered a heart attack and company considers his medical expense too high
John McCulloch has been asked to fire Vasquez and this decision is difficult for him as on one side, he shares work commitment with company, on other hand, his kind, just and ethical nature would not allow him to make this decision.
ii. Identification of stakeholders
The case analysis identifies multiple stakeholders.
First one is the John McCulloch as he is directly involved in this situation and holds an important position within company. He is highly sensitive towards the ongoing unethical activities.
After McCulloch, Bobby Vasquez is important stakeholder as his firing decision is under consideration. He has served the company for long, and sustained major injuries due to poor working conditions, and is currently on wheelchair due to poor health.
Another important stakeholder is the employees working at the plant. They also have high stake in this matter as they are forced by the UBP to work in inhumane conditions.
Plant nurse is involved in cases where injuries were under-estimated, so he is also stakeholder in this case.
The floor supervisors are also involved in this case as they bear the prime responsibility to ensure the efficiency and induce the workers to keep working in dangerous conditions. They accept no responsibility for the injuries caused due to poor protective measures.
Finally, the AMI (American Meat Institute) and OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) are the stakeholders as former is the representative of meat packing firms and later one is the regulatory body that inspects the meat packing companies like United Beef Packers.
iii. Key Ethical Question
Should John McCulloch fire Bobby Vasquez and save his job? Or he should refuse to fire the Bobby Vasquez and raise voice for workers’ safety rights?
The issue of firing Bobby Vasquez s purely ethical as it involves various direct and indirect factors. Firstly, the processing plant is more like a sweatshop where immigrant and extremely poor workers are hired on extremely low pay rates and made to work under excessive stress in inhumane and unsafe conditions. The management’s autocratic attitude and extreme focus on meeting the market demand has put employees as well as customers’ health on stake. The case does not only involve the ethical but also the legal issues. However, viewing the problem from ethical lens, the situation violates the basic assumption of leader-member exchange theory, where, it is believed that each transaction within organizational setting must be mutually beneficial and reward both parties (Walumbwa, Mayer, Wang, Wang, Workman & Christensen, 2011). In underlying case, the company is enjoying high profitability due to extreme hard-work of employees, but shows no willingness to provide a fair return and create shared value for business, customers and employees.
The “shared value” is an ethical concept which states that business organizations are ethically and morally obliged to create shared value for all stakeholders and consider the ethical and societal implications of their actions. In this case, the company has totally failed to create value for its own employees (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2016). Among different ethical theories, the John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism shares high relevance. The theory proposes that while making a decision, an individual must choose the option that will create greatest good to maximum public (Carson, 2013). In simple and basic words, the actions’ rightness relies on the extent to which they have spread the happiness. This theory discourages the actions or decisions that create happiness or wellness for limited number of people, while letting others to suffer (Beekun, Stedham, Westerman & Yamamura, 2010).
The Utilitarian view does not support the firing decision as it will create the happiness for only a small number of people including management, higher officials and the decision would save his job and family. But this decision will be set as an example, and company will make it a norm to fire the workers with high medical bills. The consequences of these actions will be much broader and will affect whole poor workforce of the UBP. Based on the ethical theory of utilitarianism, John McCulloch should not fire the Bobby Vasquez and raise the voice for a better and safe work environment. Although, this decision will disappoint the higher management and John may lose of career progression chances, but the level of suffering will be lower than other case.
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