Critical protections for meatpacking and poultry workers are urgently needed

UnicameralWe are nearly done with all-day hearings! Except for the Judiciary committee, which will wrap up hearings on Friday, March 12th, this will be the last week of all-day committee hearings. Priority bills from senators and committees will be known by March 11th. We are working hard to try to get a number of bills that would support Nebraska families and communities marked by senators or committees as priorities. All-day floor debate begins the week of March 15th, focusing primarily on senators’ priority bills for the session.

While hearings continue, your voice is important in ensuring that we are building a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive Nebraska. Here is how you can safely advocate during hearings, and visit the Unicameral’s website for more information. 

Meatpacking and poultry workers need essential protections

On Monday, we testified in front of the Business and Labor Committee to support LB241, which was introduced by Senator Tony Vargas. This critical legislation would protect Nebraska’s meatpacking workers with common-sense and critical COVID-19 protections: 6-foot distancing, sufficient masks, effective screening and quarantine practices, and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance.

You can read our testimony here. We were able to share worker stories about their experiences inside plants during the pandemic in the last couple of months. One worker said:

“It’s not safe to walk in the lobby . . . In the cafeteria, we stand elbow to elbow because there’s no room . . . There’s no distancing. And we don’t have a chance to wash our hands . . . I’ve been affected. I’ve been sick . . . And the worst part a [coworker] friend of mine, he died from Coronavirus. At the beginning the company tried to do something. But now it’s different. They don’t really care about it.”

COVID-19 exacerbated the already harsh and unsafe working conditions in meatpacking and poultry plants. Clear, enforceable protections are needed to protect Nebraska workers and communities.

Take action: urge the Business and Labor committee to advance LB241 out of committee: 

Sen. Ben Hansen, Chairperson, 402-471-2728, bhansen@leg.ne.gov 

Sen. Carol Blood, 402-471-2627, cblood@leg.ne.gov  

Sen. Tim Gragert, 402-471-280, tgragert@leg.ne.gov  

Sen. Steve Halloran, (402) 471-2712, shalloran@leg.ne.gov  

Sen. Matt Hansen, (402) 471-2610, mhansen@leg.ne.gov  

Sen. Megan Hunt, (402) 471-2722, mhunt@leg.ne.gov   

Sen. Steve Lathrop, (402) 471-2623, slathrop@leg.ne.gov 

Investing in people, not prisons

Earlier this month, we submitted testimony to the Appropriations Committee to oppose funding for new prison construction efforts. A broader view of public safety should also include funding for programs to ensure all Nebraskans have access to food, housing, health care, meaningful work opportunities, education, and support for children. Setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars for a new prison without investment in these areas to address people’s basic needs will not achieve public safety.

You can take action and reach out to members of the Appropriations Committee to let them know you are opposed to funding a new prison.

Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues

You can keep up with all the happenings at the Legislature by following Appleseed online. Like our Facebook page and follow legislative hearings in real-time on Appleseed’s Twitter feed. Stop by our blog for opinion pieces, informative updates, and news stories.

We’ll let you know how you can take action to get involved and make your voice heard throughout the session!

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