Black, Latino, and Asian slaughterhouse workers suffered disproportionately as the meat industry scrambled to respond to COVID-19. Now, they’re demanding justice.
Food Chain Workers Alliance and Rural Community Workers Alliance, along with several allies advocating for meat processing workers, filed an administrative civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 8 alleging that two major meat processing corporations have engaged in racial discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act through their workplace policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The complaint alleges that megacorporations Tyson and JBS have adopted policies that reject critical Centers for Disease Control guidance – social distancing on meat processing lines – to stop the spread of COVID-19 at their processing facilities and that the results of their current operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on the predominantly Black, Latino and Asian workforce at the companies’ plants.
These policies that endanger workers are a deliberate choice by companies to put profit over the lives of workers and their communities – and the demographics of their workforce is no secret to them. An unacceptable number of workers have become sick. If JBS and Tyson will not prioritize the safety of their Black, Latino, and Asian workers, USDA must enforce our basic civil rights laws.
FCWA Member Rural Community Workers Alliance joined the complaint.
“Over a decade RCWA has been listening to thousands of stories from meat processing plant workers about poor working conditions and labor injustices,” says Axel Fuentes, director of Rural Community Workers Alliance.
“During COVID-19 once again the meat industry discriminates against their workers which in most cases are people of color in their plants and are not allowing them to have a physical distancing to prevent spreading the virus, while their corporate officers and managers, who are mostly white, can either work from home or safely practice distancing on the job.”
The administrative complaint is filed with the USDA, because each of these megacorporations received significant sums of public contracts through USDA. It is also imperative that Congress act to ensure that OSHA does the job it was created to do and issue enforceable standards to protect all workers.
- Sign our petition urging Congress to act to protect all workers and compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard
- Stand with poultry workers organizing for increased protections. Sign Venceremos’s letter calling on Governor Asa Hutchinson to protect workers by ordering the shutdown of meat processing plants in Arkansas where workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
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