Updated: Apr 4
LULAC Demands U.S. Department Of Labor Provide Clear Guidelines To Protect Essential Workers, Especially In The Food Industry
Nation’s Oldest & Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Sends Letter to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Demanding Clear Guidelines for Employers to Include Appropriate Safety Equipment, Paid Sick Days, and Regular Health Checks for Essential Workers
Washington, DC - Today, the League of United Latin American (LULAC), wrote to Loren Sweatt, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) of the Department of Labor, expressing serious concerns about the safety of essential food industry workers, such as meatpackers, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter, LULAC asks OSHA to provide clear and uniform guidelines — including appropriate safety equipment, paid sick days and regular health checks— for the companies under the agency’s purview in regards to employee safety and health. The letter was sent following reports and photos from “essential” meat and poultry workers, who have reported to LULAC that they are not adequately protected from COVID-19 by their employers.
Excerpts from the letter from LULAC National President Domingo Garcia and LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA can be found below:
“Meat and poultry workers have always played an essential role in the American society and economy, yet at a time when they are labeled ‘essential’ they are being exposed with little recourse. As millions are filing for unemployment, meatpackers continue to do grueling shoulder-to-shoulder work even when sick, for fear of losing their jobs. While the recent stimulus bills passed in Congress are steps in the right direction, they are inadequate in matching the urgency and demands of this moment. For example, the sick-time bill recently signed by President Trump does not cover most meat and poultry workers because companies with more than 500 employees do not qualify. This is putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, thus the federal government needs to deploy all of its resources to protect them.
Among the 4,000 slaughterhouses and processing plants nationwide, there are no universal guidelines for how employers need to be reacting to this pandemic. Some companies have taken it upon themselves to take some steps such as temperature checks and offer bonuses to incentives workers to continue working. However, this is not enough. Given their status as essential workers, meat and poultry workers need to be protected and their safety and health a priority.
The Latino community is unduly impacted given the fact that they make up a significant number of workers in these industries. In addition, many of them are undocumented and have little access to healthcare and financial help.”
LULAC National expects a prompt response and investigation by OSHA, and will follow up with the agency until food industry workers are protected from COVID-19.