Over the last couple of years we have kept you informed on the high rates of crippling injuries in meatpacking and poultry processing and our fight against the USDA’s dangerous Poultry Rule, which will further increase work speeds and remove federal food safety inspectors, posing great dangers to food and workers’ safety.
Tomorrow, a group of civil rights groups and meatpacking and poultry workers, including Nebraska Appleseed and former meatpacking workers from Nebraska, will take the case back to Washington, D.C., at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The IACHR is the international body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in North and South America.
On Tuesday morning, the petitioners will testify that the U.S. meat and poultry industry has been violating the human rights of workers, and that the federal government’s policies have failed to protect workers. The petitioners will call on the U.S. government to enact work speed protections that protect workers from life-changing, crippling injuries and to oppose the dangerous rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would increase poultry line speeds.
Watch a live stream here of the IACHR hearing Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. Central.
Among the members of the coalition that will testify will be Appleseed staff attorney Omaid Zabih and two former Nebraska meatpacking plant workers:
Teresa – a woman who suffered permanent injuries from working for only four years in a Nebraska meatpacking plant. Despite surgery, she has pain that continues to wake her up at night, and her injuries prevent her from moving her neck and arms normally, performing basic household tasks, or even lifting her children.
“What I wanted when I worked at the plant was to be treated like a human being and not like some replaceable machine,” Teresa said.
Juan – A former meatpacking worker who, after eight years of working in meatpacking plants, has debilitating injuries in his hands, legs, and back. Juan has had surgeries on both hands and his back, yet the pain still persists and he has lost the ability to grip with his hands.
“My doctor set work restrictions that prohibited me from using a knife or hook. Once my company learned of my restrictions, they quickly laid me off,” Juan said. “In my experience, when you’re injured the company looks for any excuse to fire you. When you’re injured, the company no longer wants you.”
Petitioners include include the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. A large coalition of other organizations across the country have been working diligently in calling for an end to crippling injuries in meat and poultry processing, such as Center for Effective Government, Center for Progressive Reform, Food & Water Watch, NAACP, NCLR, Oxfam America, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Poultry Workers, North Carolina Justice Center, Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center, Refugee Women’s Network, Student Action with Farmworkers, Western North Carolina Worker Center, Alabama Appleseed, Heartland Worker Center, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, and others.
Click here and go to “Meatpacking/Worker Safety” to read more about Nebraska Appleseed’s work to protect workers’ rights.