Working for Westward Seafoods in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

May 7, 2013 by  

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Bald Eagles At Westward Seafoods In Dutch Harbor Alaska

    Westward Seafoods in Dutch Harbor, Alaska is a throwback to a time when human rights, environmental awareness and racism were running rampant or had never been heard of before. It is a place that is horrible to work for and should be shut down. I worked for Westward Seafoods from January until April of 2013 and I am still piecing together the shattered remnants of my psyche and recovering from physical damage that has not been encountered by an employee in the United States of America since the late 1800’s. The culture of Westward Seafoods is comically racist and the isolated location of Dutch Harbor is used as leverage to instill fear in the employees. After bringing people to Dutch Harbor, Westward lies to employees by saying the only way to leave the island without paying for a $1000 plane ticket is by getting laid off after working the entire season. They say that if you get fired, you will be cast adrift in Dutch Harbor. That is a lie. Alaska State Troopers and the Unalaska police require the seafood companies to fly terminated employees off the island. Westward Seafoods uses the implication of homelessness on an island on the southern fringes of the Bering Sea to force the full cooperation of their employees. The photo above is of bald eagles hanging out on the railing of my bunkhouse, with the plant and harbor in the background. I’m just getting started, so let’s move on, shall we?

Dutch-Harbor-Airport

Tom Madsen Airport in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

    Employees of Westward Seafoods are brought to the island on a prop driven, puddle jumping plane. The shot above was taken as I left the island but the Saab plane was the same type that flew me into what was to be my prison for the next three months. Make no mistake; you are a prisoner on Dutch Harbor.

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Cell Phone Towers In Unalaska

    The prison situation on Dutch Harbor starts with a lack of communication. There is cell service on the island but it’s not service that you can bring with you from the continental United States. Once there you will have to pay for a new phone and a new cell phone plan that is specific to the island. Other than that, you have to use payphones to communicate with the outside world. This leads me to my next point and that is communication within Westward Seafoods itself.

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Westward Seafoods Bunkhouse In Dutch Harbor, Alaska

    While you are working for Westwards Seafoods, they put you up in a bunkhouse and give you three meals a day. Above is the bunkhouse I lived in. The bed in the foreground was mine. This was only one half of the room. The other half had two more beds and a bathroom. So yes, five people lived here. You will notice there are no chairs or tables and there is no refrigerator or microwave. You are not allowed to bring food back from the galley, so if you happen to take a $20 round trip taxi ride to the island’s only grocery store, you have to buy food that does not need to be refrigerated and that does not need to be cooked. Imagine that for a second. Pretend the place where you live does not have a refrigerator, microwave or stove. After that, imagine that bedbugs infested your building and the company doesn’t tell you about it. I’m not kidding; there was a bedbug infestation that took place in February of 2013 at the Westward Seafoods plant. There is simply no dissemination about information like this at the plant. Knowledge and information are power so Westward does everything they can to keep employees in the dark.

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Westward Seafoods Dutch Harbor Processing Plant

    The photo above shows the extent of your world whilst working at Westward Seafoods. I was standing on the porch of my bunkhouse when I took the photo and in it you can see the two other bunkhouses in the foreground, the galley on the middle left and the buildings of the actual plant in the background. That’s it people.

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Dutch Harbor & Westward Seafoods Processing Plant

    Above you can see the entire Westward Seafoods prison compound as it looked one morning in February 2013. In all honesty, this post has not even scratched the surface of the working conditions, the racism or the mercury laden food that must be dealt with as a condition of working there. If you try to contact them via their website, they only have links for recruitment or sales. That should tell you everything. If, for example you had evidence of them selling or serving mercury laden Pollock, purchasing opillio crab from pirates or a working environment that is outside of OSHA standards, there is no way to let the company know. As if they didn’t already know.

    Let me put it another way; company policy is not to administer first aid to an injury. If your finger gets loped of in one of their machines, you have to tell the lead of your section that your finger got loped off and only then can you seek medical attention. I’m not kidding. There is a first aid station that has no nurses or any doctors that require you to tell one specific person that you are injured BEFORE you can receive Boy Scout treatment for your injury. If you walk from your section to the first aid station with an amputated finger before you tell your lead, you will be refused medical aid. Anyway, Do not work for Westward Seafoods, I implore you. The basic math shows that, after taxes I brought home $5.20 per hour. No one has worked 12 to 18 hours a day for $5.20 an hour since the stone age. Need I say more? Yes, I should and will say more in my next post. My next post will talk specifically about the racist culture, lack of medical personnel, buying black market fish & crab and the mercury laden food that is fed to employees. In the meantime do some research and see that I’m not alone or making this up. Cheers!

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19 Responses to “Working for Westward Seafoods in Dutch Harbor, Alaska”

  1. Paul Moeller on May 10th, 2013 10:44 am

    Wow, Rob! This is incredible. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm looking forward to more.

    P.S. If you want to expand your presence on the internet – and connect with kindred spirits, I really encourage you to set up a Facebook page.

  2. Barbara on May 16th, 2013 2:20 pm

    I think Rob, that you have a very little mind and are a spoiled brat. Rob you are obviously part of the Me generation. The residents of Alaska know these working conditions are not the Hilton. Were you housed, fed, and safe? Westward has a great reputation. I found your thoughts( of little mind they may be) belonging to maybe a New Jersey Girl . What a Windy whinier. Where did you think you were going? New York City? Great internet all the time and phone service. The fact you went somewhere and didn't bother to look at a map first is again the me generation. Everything is suppose to be as you want it. The rest of the world does not live like they do in the lower 48. Believe it or not some places in the lower 48 don't have service either.
    Guess what Alaska doesn't need your kind to come back here. My dog whines less than you do. No I don't live in Dutch and I don't work at Westward.

  3. The World Is Raw on May 17th, 2013 4:56 pm

    Barbara, this post was about how it sucked to at Westward Seafoods. It wasn't about internet service and it wasn't about Alaska. If you don't live in Dutch and don't work for Westward then what I had to write about should have been enlightening to you, no matter what generation I'm part of, how much your dog whines or how fast the internet speed in Alaska is.

  4. michale rahn on June 6th, 2013 3:44 pm

    Rob, i read your Westward stuff and yes, you are a whiner and i totally agree with Barbara. You and I worked together at Westward and your attitudfe sucked. By the way, tell evryone how many overtime shifts you worked out of how many that were offered, we all know that’s where the money is at. Didn’t like the galley, or the accomodations, or the internet speed? That’s par for the course in any remote location in Alaska. I will say this, though, you are one hell of a good photographer. Too bad your fact-checking isn’t equally as good. People have returned to Westward season after season since 1992 – i myslef have 13 seasons and counting. Can you document racism, btw? What i see is good jobs and promotions going to those with job skills and knowledge acquired after several seasons of work here, while people like you do one season, never return, and wonder why we don’t embrace our “first-season nobodies” with wide open arms. But you did do your job while you were here, so kudos to you for that much at least. let me sign my real name so you know who this is. i remain, yours truly,

    michale rahn

  5. Lorie V. on August 24th, 2013 10:52 am

    I can speak from experience, that kind of work isn't for everyone. It is easier to blame the company than self for making bad choices. My hat is off for people who return to work there season after season. Dutch Harbor rocks!

  6. CHARLIE on October 25th, 2013 3:42 pm

    hi my son is interested in working for westward and I was just looking for info on this employer only one I see that is negative any way I don't see any more than robs so any way my son is still interested but only has till 27'th of OCT. 2013 doesn't leave much wriggle room. I see two comments that seem to totally disagree with rob

  7. The World Is Raw on October 25th, 2013 4:20 pm

    It's a tough job that's not worth time and expense of getting up there, nor is the money earned worth it. That's what I think. The high turnover rate is further proof of this.

  8. Harold lamoree on December 2nd, 2013 10:01 am

    Westward is an experience, you either love it or hate it, if you aren't ready to work hard every day for three to six months with out any days off then stay home! If you are young, spoiled and lazy, stay home! Don't waist your time coming to Dutch Harbor. Most people here are here to work and it sucks when you have lazy partners. And Rob I worked with you and you were lazy! You only worked one overtime and made everybody else work harder when you would not show up for work! If you like to work then try westward!

  9. The World Is Raw on December 2nd, 2013 10:16 am

    Hey Harold,
    Just so you know, your nickname at Westward is, “Baby Harold” because you cry all the time about everything. You enjoy watching the newbies struggle, don’t help them and then complain & whine like a girl when they were learning to do the job. At mealtimes, all you do is talk shit and complain about other workers. You and your loud mouth lady friend that wore too much perfume were like those two guys from the Muppet show that sit in the balcony. I worked dozens of overtimes, not just one… I just told you and Justin Gill I didn’t work overtime because we all liked to watch you two gossip about people, thinking that you were in the know. Westward fired people daily so me not working a shift was just a drop in the bucket. People with no education or prospects that collect unemployment for most of the year make a career at Westward!

  10. Darrell on December 3rd, 2013 11:47 am

    So this is what Im thinking….. What would be the odds of me gaining employment if I just fly up to Dutch on my own? I have filled out lots of applications and haven't gotten anything…. Im just ready to show up and show Im ready to work… Any thoughts on that?

  11. The World Is Raw on December 3rd, 2013 12:30 pm

    You won't get work. Don't do what you are thinking about doing.

  12. rick walters on December 9th, 2013 2:29 pm

    im a experience ammonia refrigeration master tech, very smart and have worked 24 hours or more if needed on several times in my life time.
    as not being a labor,but a lic.trades man , how are we treated and paid?

  13. Jamz on April 10th, 2014 3:28 pm

    Rob, Thank you for having a pair and speaking your mind. You probably just saved someones life. It unfortunate the assholes that have a problem with what you said aren’t as wonderful as they believe they are , cuz if they were they could handle the job all by themselves. Thank you again.

    Jaime

  14. electromagnetic wave on April 15th, 2014 6:33 pm

    Electromagnetic wave technology are using in westward seafoods dutch harbor

  15. electromagnetic wave on April 15th, 2014 6:55 pm

    This sound little crazy but i am speaking my experience anyway. Working at the westward for three years was good learning experience many way, yes they don’t treat worker right way and working condition are bad but food and lodging are ok(i would not say “good”) because you can NOT expect too much in this kind of job. oh one more thing it’s 7.75 hr start…:(

    Also i want to mention my personal experience, i did experience the voice to skull and other attack using electromagnetic wave technology. That is the main reason i kept going back there to find out who is behind all that and actually they are relate to westward or not…
    I am speaking daily attack voice to skull, subliminal command and influencing emotion etc., i mean just like you hear from the internet call “targeted individual”.

    And about the clinic… I don’t know the relation with the perpetrators but all the symptoms i experience was same as PSP(Paralytic shellfish poisoning), In my opinion someone creating symptoms to workers in dutch harbor to go to clinic. Those symptoms looks like PSP or behavior(mental) problem but all created by Electromanetic Wave. I sent to email and letter to FBI,CNN or other agency but i have not received any contact. like i said it’s all my opinion base on my experience… illegal brain research

  16. justin gill on July 27th, 2014 12:47 pm

    lol lazy ass that’s y they didn’t hire u back rob ur a joke bro just stay home westward is for men only !!!!

  17. Rob Hurlbut on July 27th, 2014 8:47 pm

    Ok Justin, I’ll just stay home. If Westward is for men only, then what was that thing you were banging up there? Must’ve been a guy, since Westward is for men only. Shmuck.

  18. JUSTINGILL on August 25th, 2014 4:24 pm

    lol that thing I was banging was ur mom lol haha come back you’ll see LOSER GET A HAIR CUT BUM

  19. tino on September 15th, 2014 5:32 pm

    this place is meant for really hard working people and people with a strong mind if your little spoiled little brat that wears like little fancy trendy clothes chances are you’re not going to make it.it’s really tough for white people to make it it’s a 5 out of 10 chance that you will make it American black people this isn’t the place for you this place is really meant for Mexican and Filipino people

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