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Statement Release: A Better Balance Applauds Tyson Foods for Committing to Lead on Working Conditions in the Poultry Industry

Advocates Push for Effective Implementation of These Commitments
and for Improved Conditions Across the Poultry Industry

NEW YORK—Following Tyson Foods’ announcement today committing to improve working conditions in its poultry plants, A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center applauds the food giant for its public commitments. We stand with a coalition of worker advocates and worker-led centers in demanding that other companies in the poultry industry, including Pilgrim’s, Sanderson Farms, and Purdue as well as smaller producers, to follow Tyson’s example.

Tyson Foods, the largest American-owned processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork, committed to improve worker compensation and benefits, promote workplace safety, and increase workforce engagement.

The poultry industry is heavily female compared to other physically demanding careers; approximately half of all workers are women. Work in the poultry processing plants can be dangerous, demanding and inflexible for all workers. But women may face particular risks because of factors such as plant design, care-taking responsibilities and limited job mobility.

Dina Bakst, co-president of A Better Balance, said: “A Better Balance applauds Tyson Foods’ public commitment to improve working conditions and benefits for poultry workers. ABB has heard from poultry workers about terrible abuses of workers — from policies that prevent workers from going to the bathroom during the workday, to conditions that lead to worker injuries, to severe attendance policies that punish workers for taking needed time to care for themselves or their families.

“We urge Tyson to effectively implement these commitments, and for the rest of the industry to follow suit. We also urge Tyson and the rest of the industry to take action on providing job-protected paid sick days that workers can use for themselves and their families, an issue that Tyson so far has only said it will study. Paid sick days promote worker health as well as public health through avoiding food contamination and the spread of sickness to other workers. ABB is proud to be a part of a coalition of advocacy groups and worker centers that are pushing the poultry industry to treat its workers fairly, and we will continue to push for positive change.”

 

A Better Balance served as an advisor on a 2016 report published by Oxfam about women working in the poultry industry. See “Women on the Line: A Review of Workplace Gender Issues in the US Poultry Industry;”