On March 11, the UFCW announced its support for the Safe Line Speeds During COVID–19 Act, which will suspend increases in line speeds at meatpacking plants and strengthen protections for thousands of America’s essential workers at these facilities who continue to face the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
This legislation, which was reintroduced by Senator Cory Booker (N.J.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), would strengthen protections for workers at meatpacking plants and protect our country’s food supply by:
- Directing the Secretary of Agriculture to suspend existing waivers and not issue any waivers related to line speeds at meat and poultry establishments during the pandemic;
- Suspending the implementation of, and conversion to, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System;
- Preventing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending funds to develop, propose, finalize, issue, amend, or implement any policy, regulation, directive, constituent update, or any other agency program that would increase line speeds during the COVID-19 emergency period; and
- Requiring the Government Accountability Office to issue a report after the COVID-19 emergency is over that reviews the actions taken by the USDA, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services in response to the pandemic to determine the effectiveness in protecting animal, food, and worker safety.
“America’s meatpacking and food processing workers are putting their health on the line every day to ensure our families can put food on the table as this pandemic continues,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “These hard-working men and women of America’s meatpacking industry deserve safe workplaces.”
“Today’s introduction of the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act by Senator Booker and Representative DeLauro is a critical step toward strengthening protections in these plants,” Perrone added. “Simply put, slower line speeds help to keep workers safe from injuries and ensure safe social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19. As these essential workers continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic, all members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, must commit to putting safety first by passing this critical legislation that will strengthen vital protections for the brave men and women in meatpacking plants who are helping to keep our food supply secure during this crisis.”