This Thanksgiving is sure to be an unconventional one, as families navigate staying safe during a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. But when it comes to the demand for turkey on our plates, it’s business as usual—so we must keep fighting for the workers who process our food, who are denied the opportunity to care for their own health and their loved ones without jeopardizing their income.
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share a meal with family and celebrate those we care about. But it’s also an opportunity to stand up for the workers who process our food, who too often work in harsh conditions with low wages and little time off to care for their families and their own well-being.
These raids create a climate where corporations are emboldened to take advantage of undocumented workers, and workers are in turn fearful to stand up for their rights at the risk of facing detention and deportation. The poultry industry, which frequently relies on immigrant labor, is notorious for its dangerous and exploitative working conditions.
Poultry workers endure incredibly harsh and dangerous conditions and an increase in line speed will only pose a greater threat to the health, safety, and dignity of workers. Female poultry workers, who comprise nearly half of the 250,000 poultry workers in the U.S., face particular challenges working on the line.
The National Chicken Council submitted a petition to the federal government to exempt poultry processing plants from line speed requirements put in place for worker and consumer health and safety. ABB is particularly concerned about the result any line speed increase could have on pregnant workers, many of whom already risk their health on the job for fear of requesting reasonable accommodations.
In 2014, the USDA rejected a proposal that would harm poultry workers and, as 40 organizations recently urged the Secretary of Agriculture, should do the same today.