Union opposed to reopening meat plants
The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers, on Friday announced its opposition to the reopening of the 14 meatpacking plants that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said had resumed operations or had plans to reopen soon.
“America’s meatpacking workers are putting their lives on the line every day to make sure our families have the food they need during this pandemic,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement.
“Meatpacking plants did not close because anyone wants them to close. These plants closed because at least 30 workers died and more than 10,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19,” Perrone said.
“Today’s rush by the Trump administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.
“Since the executive order was announced by President Trump, the administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants.
“We are calling on the White House to end the delays and immediately mandate that all meatpacking companies provide the highest level of protective equipment, ensure daily testing is available for all meatpacking workers, enforce physical distancing at all plants, provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected, and establish constant monitoring by federal inspectors to ensure these safety standards are enforced. We cannot wait any longer.”
In its latest tally of cases of COVID-19 in meat plants, the Food & Environment Reporting Network said that as of noon Friday EDT, “at least 190 meatpacking and processed food plants and four farms have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and at least eight meatpacking plants and five processed food plants are currently closed. At least 13,117 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 51 have died.”
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