December 12, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as well as leaders of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, that explains why a recent petition by the National Chicken Council to eliminate line speeds at poultry plants must be rejected. The letter cites last week’s report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on safety and health in the poultry industry as confirmation of the UFCW’s concerns.
An excerpt from President Perrone’s letter can be read below.
If this petition is accepted, poultry companies will be allowed to run their food processing lines as fast as they please. Allowing this to occur will put hard-working poultry workers at greater risk of being injured and consumers at greater risk of becoming ill from eating improperly inspected chicken.
- The GAO report confirmed that America’s meat and poultry industry is forcing workers to endure dangerous conditions, including amputation hazards, exposure to harmful chemicals, and fast-paced repetitive tasks that often lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
- The report supported findings by Oxfam that poultry workers struggle to get adequate bathroom breaks at current line speed limits, even to the point of endangering their health.
- Other GAO reports in 2005 and 2016 also found significant problems with safety and health in the poultry industry.
- In addition to worker risks, countries with higher line speeds have higher rates of foodborne contamination in poultry plants.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.
Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org