***For Immediate Release***
Wednesday, July 28, 2020
Contact: Magdalena Cazarez
Cell: (402) 504-0074
The Nebraska Legislature failed to protect essential Nebraskans
Motion to suspend the rules to introduce a bill to protect workers fails by only two votes
LINCOLN, NE – Today, a motion filed by Nebraska State Senator Tony Vargas to suspend the rules to permit the introduction of a new bill was debated by the Legislature. The proposed bill for introduction would have required meat and poultry processing facilities to implement key COVID-19 protections for essential Nebraskans working in those plants. Despite months of pleas from workers, their families, and their communities for the Legislature to act, Senator Vargas’ motion failed by only two votes.
Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program Director, Darcy Tromanhauser, issued the following statement:
“Thank you to Senator Tony Vargas and the 27 Nebraska state senators who supported the opportunity to consider legislation that would provide greater protection to the more than 20,000 essential Nebraskans who work in meat and poultry processing facilities. The health and safety of workers and family members across our state continues to be in jeopardy due to a lack of COVID-19 protections in meat and poultry plants.
It is stunning that there were not enough Senators willing to vote for an opportunity to hear about what is happening to Nebraskans working in this industry, 80% of whom are immigrants, refugees, and people of color. Nearly 5,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday, at least 21 workers have died and hundreds have been hospitalized. Yet those numbers were not compelling enough to take action. We will continue to fight alongside people working in meat and poultry processing until adequate protections are in place.”