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Why This Matters: Climate change leaders have long argued that industrial livestock farming, meat processing, coal mining, and coal-fired power plants are bad for human health and climate change. Now COVID is attacking these workers at rates that are shocking — 58% of the workers at one particular meatpacking plant tested positive for the virus. And coal miners are at greater risk than they should be because safety rules are not being enforced in mines — they are only guidelines and there is little oversight by the MSHA. These workers may be deemed essential for the purposes of keeping coal and meatpacking plants open, but their individual safety is not a priority.
Meatpacking Plants Are “Dangerous”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden told NBC News that he “feared for meatpacking workers. He said such plants, along with nursing homes, have become “the most dangerous places there are right now.” He continued, “They designate them as essential workers and then treat them as disposable,” Biden said of the meatpackers. The numbers of plant workers testing positive are unconscionable. NBC News reported that:
at a Tyson plant in Waterloo 444 workers test positive, which was 17% of those tested
at a Tyson plant in Columbus Junction 221 workers test positive, which was 26% of those tested
at the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama, 258 workers tested positive, which was 39% of those tested
Regardless of the President’s executive order keeping them open, Tyson Foods said in a statement, “We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety.”
Protecting Coal Miners
West Virginia Public TV reports that there are tools that the MSHA could use, including more inspections, making sure miners know they can report unsafe conditions without fear of retribution, issuing emergency standards, and making public which mines have confirmed cases of the virus. They said that “MSHA did not respond to questions about why it had not made safety precautions mandatory.” And older miners have a high rate of black lung disease and worry that they would not survive if they got the virus. And local clinics that treat black lung disease have actually closed temporarily in order to protect their patients.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The earliest iteration of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in 1977 to “defend, conserve and protect our ocean.” Meet three women, featured by Vogue, who are carrying out the organization’s mission: Eva Hidalgo: 31-year-old Spanish scientist who was part of the team that possibly identified a new […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A bill sitting on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk could take away local government’s decision-making about their energy choices, including where to build large-scale solar arrays. The outcome will impact the historically Black town of Archer, where Origis Energy and Gainesville Regional Utilities want to build a 50-megawatt solar […]
The American Jobs Plan is an unmissable moment for communities across the country to address the legacy of urban freeways and set a new course for a more equitable future. It’s absolutely critical that as we begin to reimagine and build the transportation infrastructure of the 21st century that we do not repeat the mistakes […]
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