Latino Civil Rights Group Sees Safety Improvements in Packing Plants

( Smithfield Foods )

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) says that it has seen progress in working environments for the nation’s meatpacking workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and intends to continue seeking constructive engagement with food producers, according to a league release.

“LULAC is not giving up its right to speak out on many important issues facing our community,” said Domingo Garcia, National President, in the release. “However, our single focus here and now is worker safety for the tens of thousands of Latinos who are still going into meatpacking plants every day. To get that, we are meeting with the CEO’s of these companies and going into the plants to see for ourselves the changes they’re making to fight the coronavirus. The virus is the enemy.” 

LULAC has a five-point set of principles for progress that it intends to present to food producers that includes these steps:

  • monthly testing of all workers for COVID-19,
  • complete personal protection equipment,
  • line speed to labor adjustment,
  • compensation for infected workers undergoing care and
  • assistance to families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus.

The group has met with JBS in Greeley, Colo. and Tyson Foods in Sprindale, Ark., so far, the release said. Both plants have made strides, and discussions are also underway with Cargill in Minnetonka, Minn.

“There is still more that can and must be done which we will achieve by working together with companies that are making necessary changes and we can’t get sidetracked by other agendas that distract us from worker safety,” Garcia said in the release. “Ultimately, we need new legislation and federal funding to assist meat producers and workers in making vital design and operational changes that benefit our nation’s food supply plants and workers. It’s an ambitious goal but in the end, America will be a better nourished nation for it, the workers will have a safer workplace and LULAC will monitor all progress.”