Hog processing plant Photo: Wikimedia Commons
This week an anonymous employee at a Smithfield Foods meat processing facility wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post exposing the dangers that workers are subjected to in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak at the plant. The meat processing industry has been a hub of coronavirus outbreaks and workers are terrified to have to show up to work or risk losing their jobs. Here’s an excerpt from this chilling account:
I believe our plant hasn’t done enough to protect us, and I fear that we could suffer the same fate as a shuttered plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., where two Smithfield employees have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, already.
At first, the coronavirus seemed so far away. Then we heard that the nearby university had told students not to return from spring break. On March 13, our governor declared a state of emergency. A few days later, the local schools closed, and I had to hire a babysitter. As a parent, that made the seriousness of the virus really sink in.
Workers deemed essential are literally risking their lives every day when they show up to work. It’s emphasized the vast shortcomings in labor laws as well as worker rights that we have in the United States after decades of anti-union policies. We wanted to thank this brave person for writing this essay and reminding the rest of us that we desperately need a worker bill of rights in our country.