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Today Farm Forward and more than 120 groups launched a week of action against Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) demanding the company address the rising number of COVID-19 cases affecting workers at its chicken, pork, and beef processing facilities.
A letter sent to Tyson shareholders this morning is the first in a series of actions this week to pressure the company to implement essential worker safety measures needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The week of action kicks off as the Senate goes into recess without passing legislation requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect meatpacking and other frontline workers.
Meatpacking workers nationwide, including those at Tyson, have been fighting for safe working conditions since March. More than 8,500 Tyson employees at 37 poultry, pork, and beef plants in seven states have been confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, an infection count more than double that of any other meatpacker. Tragically, more than 25 Tyson workers have died from the virus.
In response to the meat giant’s continued neglect of workers’ safety, 120 organizations are demanding that Tyson protect workers by:
“I have been organizing workers at poultry processing plants in northwest Arkansas since 2014, and I can tell you there is more to this than a concern for your right to an uninterrupted supply of chicken tenders, bacon, and T-bone steaks,” says Magaly Licolli of Venceremos, a worker-based grassroots organization fighting for better working conditions for poultry workers. “We’re in such a crucial moment right now. For the future of the country, we must think deeply about the meaning of frontline food workers in our daily lives and stand up for their human rights and dignity — because they’ve always been essential, and if they don’t survive, we won’t survive.”
The week of action against Tyson comes on the heels of tens of thousands of letters sent by concerned citizens to the company demanding swift action to protect workers. Tomorrow, environmental, labor, food justice and animal welfare leaders will also stand in solidarity with Venceremos and frontline meatpacking workers in urging Governor Hutchinson to close plants where workers have tested positive for COVID-19. The rest of the week will include petitions, social media, emails, and phone calls calling on Tyson to immediately implement the basic health and safety measures listed above.
Tyson’s failure to properly protect its workforce from the spread of this deadly virus is a prime illustration of how little the company cares about its employees—who are predominantly people of color and immigrants—despite its aggressive media efforts to portray the opposite. Take Action Today—Here’s how.
July 6, 2020