As Covid-19 spreads in meatpacking plants across the country, a number of groups representing ranchers and farmers have joined with a key labor union to call for stronger protections for meatpacking workers. The alliance comes as the tally of meat industry workers who have contracted the disease approaches 25,000, even as companies restrict information about outbreaks at their facilities. (No paywall)
The MacArthur Foundation awarded one of its $625,000 "genius grants" to Greg Asbed, one of three co-founders of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW). It said Asbed "is a human rights strategist developing a new model — worker-driven social responsibility — for improving conditions for low-wage workers within the 21st Century labor market."
Even as Alaska experienced a banner year for sockeye salmon, some commercial fishermen had to stop hauling in the fish because there weren’t enough workers to process them.
The fines for safety lapses are so low that meatpacking companies have little incentive to improve working conditions, says a story by Harvest Public Media on NPR. When Ralph Horner, an employee at JBS’s Greeley, Colorado beef facility was caught on a conveyer built and chocked to death, JBS paid just $38,500 in fines. And that was more than most cases, according to Herb Gibson, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Denver office, which sends inspectors to the massive Greeley plant. Every day, the plant’s 3,000 employees process roughly 5,600 head of cattle.
Poultry workers say they are routinely denied bathroom breaks, according to a report by Oxfam America, based on interviews with workers at some of the nation's biggest poultry companies, including Tyson Foods, Perdue and Pilgrim's over the last three years.
A new survey of more than 500 poultry workers in Arkansas found that 62 percent had experienced some kind of wage violation (e.g. not being paid or being deducted unfairly for safety gear) and 44 percent reported being verbally or sexually harassed.