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.
Poultry plant workers have long been forced to endure inhumane conditions, in part due to ever-increasing, breakneck line speeds that endanger workers. Unfortunately, this issue has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as poultry plant workers have faced sharply increased risks of contracting COVID-19 on the job due to the failure of employers and lawmakers to ensure adequate protections like paid leave, job-protection, pregnancy accommodations, and safety measures like PPE and physical barriers.
In April, we wrote a joint letter to the poultry industry with Oxfam, demanding that the poultry industry take immediate steps to prioritize their workers’ health during the pandemic. Unfortunately, disturbing news continues to emerge about the industry’s treatment of its workers. Although this pandemic has highlighted the dangers of increased line speeds to workers’ health and safety, the Trump Administration’s USDA has recently proposed a new rule to dangerously increase line speeds against the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which in fact advises poultry plants to reduce line speeds during this pandemic. We continue to work with other organizations to advocate for poultry workers opposing rules such as these that show blatant disregard for the health of workers.
So this Thanksgiving and year-round, let’s demand better for workers in poultry plants, both during the pandemic and beyond. We are proud to be a part of the Poultry Workers’ Rights Coalition, and we are committed to working with our partners to protect and defend the rights of all poultry workers.