The COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on backbreaking, low-paying employees, and the short film, “The Kill Floor” directed and written by Carlos Avila, shows how this impacted the meatpacking industry. By focusing on what many Latinos experienced during the pandemic, it provides a voice for an often ignored demographic.
It’s well-known that Latinos work hard and are loyal, yet their lives are treated with such cheap value. This film shows the meatpacking company blaming the spread of the virus on the employees, pointing out that multigenerational households facilitated the virus’s spread.
We’re reminded of the cruelty and lack of compassion many corporations possess and whose only concern is to make a profit. No amount of loyal service will shift how the company views its employees which is nothing more than disposable workers.
The story follows a father and son, Agustin and Gil, respectively. The father has been working at this company for 35 years while his son is a journalist for the local newspaper. In a flashback sequence, we learn of the son’s desire to begin working alongside his father at the meatpacking company; however, the dad refuses because he wants him to focus on his studies to aspire for a better career.
As a parent myself, the father’s decision felt relatable and understandable. The son is then tasked to investigate how this company handles the pandemic, only to realize the ongoing negligence and disrespect many employees undergo.
This deeply unnerving depiction of the circumstances many workers faced during the pandemic is further worsened by the employers’ response. Avila does an exceptional job exploring the conflict of interest between the father and son. Gil wants to expose the unfair treatment of the workers.
In contrast, Agustin wants nothing to do with the reporting since his hustle culture mentality has conditioned him always to work hard, never complain, and be loyal to his employer.
I found the dilemma both father and son find themselves in to be captivating because it’s a matter of ethical principles versus familial relationships, which is a realistic situation many are familiar with.
Overall, “The Kill Floor” is the voice of the voiceless. A thought-provoking and eye-opening reality many Latinos (and corporate employees) experience. It’s a film that’ll leave you double-questioning whether unconditional loyalty toward greedy companies is worth it, but at the same time, it beams a light on hardworking workers who are the backbone of this country.
Workers whose everyday labor feeds us and our families and whose arduous work is under-appreciated and under compensated simply because of their ethnicity.