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February 11, 2005

Reports Confirm Line Speed, Discrimination Put Meatpacking and Poultry Workers at Risk

Washington DC — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) urges immediate action to correct dangerous line speeds in meatpacking and poultry plants where injury rates are three times that of other manufacturing sectors.

A report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), ordered by Senator Edward Kennedy, shows what workers in the industries have been subjected to for years:

  • Dangerous line speeds
  • An absence of injury and illness monitoring by OSHA
  • Intimidation that leads to under-reporting of injuries
  • Department of Agriculture inspectors without adequate training for recognizing hazardous conditions

“Blood, Sweat, and Fear,” a Human Rights Watch report, finds that the industries’ largely immigrant workforce “contend with conditions, vulnerabilities and abuses, which violate human rights,” including:

  • Life-ending injuries
  • Lack of compensation for injuries
  • Discrimination against immigrant workers
  • Illegal company actions to suppress workers’ rights to form unions

The reports call for immediate action by both employers and federal and state governments to rectify these conditions. “The GAO and Human Rights Watch reports have put the spotlight on these industries,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen. “These findings underscore the need for immediate concrete action to correct these long-standing problems to ensure the safety of workers who put dinner on the table for American families.”