Working on a supply chain is an essential task during this pandemic.It is also essential that corporations engaged in the supply chain production take basic steps to protect their workers from the spread of COVID-19. Some employers are doing things right. Unfortunately, many workers in supply chain work —farmworkers, slaughterhouse workers, warehouse workers, grocery workers, delivery drivers, restaurant workers, and many others—continue to be required to report to work under conditions that directly conflict with CDC guidance and state and local public health orders. These conditions include failing to restructure the workplace to allow for social distancing at work, failing to encourage sick leave for workers who fall ill, and failing to provide protective equipment or sufficient hand-washing opportunities.
The results have been disastrous. Workers, their family members, and members of their communities have died because of illnesses contracted at workplaces in the supply chain. Low-wage workers, immigrants, and people of color have borne the brunt of much of this harm.
Under normal circumstances, the federal government and OSHA would be stepping in to enforce workplace safety standards. But that isn’t happening now. It’s fallen on workers to fight back through our civil justice system, and many have. Towards Justice joined by collaborators from Public Justice, Make the Road New York and Terrell Marshall are proud to represent workers and community members in standing up to employers who are failing to take even the minimum basic steps necessary to minimize the spread of disease:
Complaint: RURAL COMMUNITY WORKERS ALLIANCE and JANE DOE; Plaintiffs, v. SMITHFIELD FOODS, INC. AND SMITHFIELD FRESH MEATS CORP.,
Preliminary Injunction: RURAL COMMUNITY WORKERS ALLIANCE and JANE DOE; Plaintiffs, v. SMITHFIELD FOODS, INC. AND SMITHFIELD FRESH MEATS CORP., Defendants.
The New York Times: Missouri Pork Plant Workers Say They Can’t Cover Mouths to Cough
The Washington Post Op-Ed: I work at Smithfield Foods. I’m suing them over putting our lives at risk for your dinner.
The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC: Meat plants become COVID-19 hotspots after poor handling of outbreaks
NPR: Workers Sue Smithfield Foods, Allege Conditions Put Them At Risk For COVID-19
Here & Now, WBUR: What Trump’s Order On Meatpacking Plants Means For Workers