Last week, Oxfam America released a report titled No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in the Poultry Industry. The report illustrates the abuses that continue to be heaped on the hard-working men and women who work in America’s poultry plants, including the denial of bathroom breaks—leaving many with no choice but to wear diapers as they work on the line.
According to the report, being part of a union makes a difference when it comes to workers’ rights in the poultry industry:
In the course of hundreds of interviews, only a handful of workers reported that their bathroom needs are respected. These exceptions are primarily in plants that have unions, which offer important protections, inform workers of their rights, and ensure they have a voice on the job. Unionized workers report that they feel comfortable leaving or stopping the line when their requests are denied for too long. Roughly a third of the poultry workforce is unionized, leaving most workers without these crucial protections.
The UFCW released the following statement in response to the report and coverage in The Washington Post (“I had to wear Pampers’: The cruel reality the people who bring you cheap chicken allegedly endure”):
“The indignity with which poultry workers are being treated in America has to stop. Workers need to know they have a right to organize and that organized workers have more opportunities to protect themselves from this type of abuse.
“The headline is salacious, but the heart of the matter is that unionized workers can speak freely about dangerous working conditions without fear of retaliation. This leads to a healthier and more productive work environment and a safer product for consumers.”
A full copy of the report can be found here.