You are hereLocal 1776 urges Agriculture Secretary to Withdraw Proposal to Speed up Poultry Lines
Local 1776 urges Agriculture Secretary to Withdraw Proposal to Speed up Poultry Lines
Local 1776 went straight to the source -- Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack – to urge him to withdraw a rule aimed at speeding up production on poultry lines.
Taking advantage of an invitation to meet with the Secretary as he visited Penn State’s School of Agriculture in State College, 1776 Representative Carlos Renderos presented Vilsack with more than 430 letters from UFCW beef and poultry members asking him to withdraw the rule “until a comprehensive study has been completed that measures the impact that the increased line speed and new safety protocols will have on the health and safety of workers.”
These were in addition to hundreds of letters that had already been mailed to the Secretary
More than 3,000 Local 1776 members work in poultry and meat packing plants.
The “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection,” proposed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January, would radically increase the speed on poultry lines from 91 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute. This rule would expand the existing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Inspection Model Program (HIMP) to replace the current inspection system. Processing plants would have fewer USDA inspectors examining on the line and would instead make poultry workers responsible for inspections before the birds arrive at the USDA checkpoint. In order to nearly double the amount of birds per minute, workers would need to keep up with faster lines and increased use of chlorine.
The USDA has made no study of how faster line speeds and changes to safety protocols would impact employees’ health and safety. However, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has plans for such a study, although no start date has been announced. USDA’s comment period for the proposed rule ends May 26, but the agency has promised to work with NIOSH and consider available data when looking to implement changes. The International UFCW, Local 1776 and other locals oppose the USDA’s final rule before the NIOSH investigation is completed.
“With UFCW members all across the United States signing letters to stand up for workplace safety, this issue is a clear example of the importance of political activism and involvement,” said Michele Kessler, Local 1776 Secretary-Treasurer. “Local 1776 and UFCW members are wasting no time in voicing their concerns about safety and standing together in opposition to the rule.” She added:
“UFCW members know how important workplace safety is, and they know that the proponents of this plan seek to make a change that will directly affect poultry workers in our plants and across America. That’s why Local 1776 members urge Secretary Vilsack to reject the proposed rule.”
Photo: 1776 Representative Carlos Renderos and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack after Renderos presented letters opposing speed up on poultry lines.