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UFCW Local 1776KS Fights Trump Administration Attack on Worker Safety
Posted On: Oct 17, 2019
UFCW1776KS Leads Bid to Defeat Corporate & USDA Efforts to Roll Back Safety Regs
UFCW Local 1776KS is no stranger to fighting for line speed regulations in our meatpacking/ processing facilities. Worker safety will always be a top priority for our team and with good reason, consider that:
•Federal statistics show that animal slaughtering and processing facilities are the 6th most dangerous place for severe injuries in America today.
•Workers in the meatpacking industry are injured at 2.4 times the rate of other industries and these Injuries result in lost time or restrictions at three times the rate of other industries.
•Workers in meatpacking face illness rates at 17 times the rate of other industries.
Despite these facts, corporate interests and the Trump administration continue to try and roll back the clock and eliminate time-tested rules that protect workers from injury or death and consumers from eating bacteria-laden meat.
Most recently, UFCW 1776KS faced a serious challenge after the National Chicken Council petitioned the USDA to exempt certain poultry facilities from line speed regulations, which would have created dangerous safety issues in many facilities, including Empire Kosher, where over 500 Local 1776KS members work.
The UFCW 1776KS team jumped into action and worked with members to sign post cards opposing the petition. With hundreds of post cards collected and submitted, the USDA made the decision to deny the National Chicken Council’s petition and keep workers safe. This pro-worker decision from the USDA was a major victory for Local 1776 Empire Kosher members and a great showing of solidarity.
In addition to this fight, we are battling against USDA’s proposed set of rules that will eliminate limits on how fast workers can slaughter pigs - a change meatpackers have been chasing for years so they can turn a bigger profit. On October 7, 2019, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union filed a federal lawsuit to block these changes. UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2 are part of the lawsuit filed; over 2,000 sisters and brothers of Local 663 work at the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota.
Under the Trump administration rules, companies would be able to set and enforce – or not – their own safety rules in these facilities. Under the proposal, slaughter speeds based on the company’s ability to prevent fecal contamination and minimize bacteria.
To make things even easier for the meatpackers, USDA workers will no longer be allowed to remove meat with certain defects from the slaughtering process. The companies will now be responsible for making sure that the animals are not contaminated.
When companies are able to set and enforce their own safety rules in facilities, workers suffer. Lines are pushed faster, and workers are blamed if quality and safety suffers. It is our duty to protect our members and ensure that facilities remain SAFE for workers. It is also another example of why elections matter. We need to work to elect pro-worker officials that will protect our members; you can support this effort by becoming a member of the UFCW Local 1776 Political Action Committee (“PAC”) and also registering to vote.
The Trump administration’s decision is already affecting our brothers and sisters who work at a JBS pork plant in Beardstown, Illinois. The facility is one of five in a federal pilot program that allows them to slaughter more hogs per hour. In the past few years, there have been five amputations or other severe injuries at the facility. It is only a matter of time before the Trump administration will look to do the same roll back measures at beef plants, too.
We will never stop fighting to ensure worker safety. As we look ahead, we will continue to work with all of our 35,000 members to ensure their safety and voice on the job!