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Each day, thousands of workers in the Carolinas clean, bone and trim an armada of turkeys and chickens. They do risky, repetitive jobs to put popular specialty cuts on the nation's tables. Their work returns millions in profits to the companies that employ them.

After a conveyer broke her arm and ripped off the tip of a finger, a worker in a poultry plant in Greenville, S.C., was back on the job the next morning. Cornelia Vicente said the plant nurse told her at the hospital she had no choice.

You may not like the fact illegal immigrants break the law to come to this country for jobs. Yet they do come, and Americans want the low-priced products and services their cheap labor provides. But we should be appalled by what's happening to thousands of immigrant workers who do dangerous, dirty work in pain factories in the Carolinas.

Marvin Johnson is not the only businessman to try and get his way on worker safety. The trouble is, when special interests go too far, government oversight becomes a joke. Workers pay the price in pain.

What happened to Karina Zorita just isn't decent. Yet it's commonplace in pain factories such as the ones in the Carolinas where thousands of poultry workers clean and debone America's best-selling meat.

Today we ask you to join us for a six-day series on the plight of Carolinas workers who put America's most popular meat on the table.

Facts on workplace safety inspections, violations and penalties came from data kept by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

North Carolina bolstered its workplace safety program after a chicken plant fire killed 25 workers in Hamlet in 1991. But the state's focus on keeping poultry workers safe has waned since the mid-1990s, an Observer investigation has found.

Regulators routinely slash fines and fail to pursue the toughest penalties against House of Raeford Farms, an Observer analysis shows.

Cornelia Vicente was packing chicken tenders at House of Raeford Farms' plant in 2003 when a conveyor belt snagged her hand, snapped her right arm and ripped off the tip of her index finger.

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