Article #2

October 8, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Reid Rosen

Article #2

Com 208 Journalism for Print & Web


I interviewed Gene Ambroson on an early Tuesday Morning. I wanted to talk Mr. Ambroson because I had a conversation a month ago over his time working with lobbyists in Washington. I thought Students would find it interesting hearing about what it was really like working with the US government and specifically lobbyists. We often hear about what Unions and Lobbyists do to support US politicians and influence US policies. Gene is an expert because of his thirty plus years working with IBP; playing a large part in trying to influence government policy and Unions to favor IBP.

Gene started his career working in Media at the NBC affiliate here in Sioux City and after an attractive job offer, ended up working with IBP on employee communications; eventually working his way up to Director of Communications at IBP. Gene’s job incorporated a wide variety of jobs and locations. He had to deal with all manners of issues (usually involving labor relations) at many different locations, from Pasco Washington to Luverne Minnesota. I asked Gene what the most difficult issue he had to face while working at IBP; he said by far the most difficult issue he had to face were the strikes at Dakota City. He explained to me that the way IBP was operating had allowed for more automation and had changed how meat was distributed. Gene described the centralization by saying “For years and years we cut meat into halves and quarters and shipped it by train or truck, were a butcher broke it down more. Then IBP came along and changed the game by boxing all its meat. Let’s bring all the jobs that we are shipping our meat out to into Middle America.” This move challenged the butchers, and their Unions. It also required less training from the workers in the plant, this meant less pay as Gene described.

To settle the strike Gene had to do a lot of work with Washington. During the early 80’s, IBP set up the political action committee. The committee would pool money together and support a certain politician. The interests of IBP were in Agriculture and Labor relations so IBP gave money to any political group that favored these interests. Ronald Reagan was then president and was very favorable to business and very tough on labor relations. Gene at this time actually met George Bush Senior who was Vice President. Because Reagan and Bush both received money from IBP, Gene had the opportunity to meet George Bush Senior. IBP was able to put the strike down by eventually gaining favor with state and federal government; this allowed them to be very tough on the Unions. Gene also goes on to describe that he had a lot of sway in the use of the master contract. The master contract was used by pretty much every other meat packer at the time except IBP, the wage was a set $13.25 an hour rate.   IBP had to contend with the high wage set by the Union and eventually settled the strike with a rate less than the master contract.

My final question to Gene was why he ended up leaving IBP, how did he end up working at Morningside? After spending over 30 years at IBP Gene was offered a job by Don Kelsey and Tom Kerken who were on the board at the time. He originally thought it was a goofy idea but after some thought Gene liked the idea of a transition into education. Gene described his move to Morningside by saying “I was making all the money I ever wanted to make, but there was something pulling me in another direction.”

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3 Responses to “Article #2”
  1. Gustav says:


    very interesting stuff you’re talking about here. I’m not sure this would classify as a news story or news article. It would rather be a blog or journal. Since that is the case, i understand you don’t have a lead.
    Definitely did well on introducing your topic and explaining why i’d be of interest to people. Your guy is the only source, are you going to have another one? I think you could put one more quote in there somewhere.
    overall, i don’t know really what to tell you, because it’s not the typical news story and i just told you i took a different approach

  2. Alison says:

    Reid…Good News! I made it past the first paragraph! Interesting topic. One thing about the first paragraph is maybe saying who exactly Gene Ambroson is? Maybe. I really liked your last quote, it was a good one, and had a good end to the story. Also, you need a title. Unless you like article #2, then don’t change it! 🙂

  3. Chris says:

    Having worked with Gene during the strikes, I remember the trips and political maneuvering that went on. Nice work.