Senate Democrats Seek Meat Worker Protections

A group of Democratic Senators is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide more worker safety protection to meat processing employees. Twenty-nine senators, led Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), penned a letter to Perdue outlining recommendations for ways USDA should improve worker safety.

“While we recognize the importance of keeping these plants running, it is wrong and shortsighted to use the Defense Production Act to mandate plants to stay open without effectively addressing worker safety issues,” according to a letter sent to Perdue by 29 senators, led by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

The group says that while the Trump administration has applauded the reopening of several plants, USDA officials in congressional briefings could not confirm that the plants were operating in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance. The senators urged USDA to ensure that meatpacking plants take sufficient actions to protect worker safety before opening, including reconfiguring the plants to allow for social distancing, providing appropriate personal protective equipment, instituting ongoing testing, ensuring that infected employees are not coming to work, and making other necessary changes to keep workers safe.