Meatpacking plants update

“As of June 9, there have been at least 24,000 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 232 plants in 33 states, and at least 86 reported worker deaths at 38 plants in 23 states.” Tyson Foods among meatpacking companies reported by far the greatest number of cases. (From here.)

A May news article said that immigrants make up nearly 40% of the meatpacking (or meatprocessing) industry’s 470,000 workers with higher concentrations in states like South Dakota, where they are 58% of workers and Nebraska, where they are 66%,. Estimates on illegal immigrants very from 14% to the majority in some plants.

Meatpacking is one of the top concerns in the country for occupational safety.

A Southern Poverty Law Center report in 2013 focused on the speed of the production line: “An overwhelming majority of workers surveyed, 78 percent, asserted that “line speed makes them feel less safe, makes their work more painful and causes more injuries.”

The GAO concluded a 2017 report on meatpacking plants that “worker safety and health problems persist and improvements are needed in identifying worker concerns, strengthening federal collaboration, and protecting workers from certain chemicals. Workers we spoke with reported they are reluctant to report injuries, illnesses, and hazards because they fear losing their jobs. There is a mismatch between concerns we heard from workers and the problems reported by OSHA, particularly in the area of bathroom access.”

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