Richmond, VA -- Following the news that Virginia’s meatpacking plants are hotspots for the COVID-19 outbreak, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board is holding a hearing today to review an emergency temporary standard plan, which includes a Proposed Rule regarding protections companies would be required to give the state’s workers.
Several Virginia nonprofits -- including Food & Water Action, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and Organize Virginia -- submitted comments during the public comment period seeking to protect the rights, health, and safety of poultry plant workers. Food & Water Action advocates for paid sick leave, temperature checks before workers enter plants, better tracking of which workers get sick and when as well as fast and transparent dissemination of that information, and paid sick leave for all workers.
“Meat and poultry corporations did not adequately protect their workers at the onset of this crisis, and now frontline workers are being forced to bear the worst impacts of the COVID-19 virus,” says Jolene Mafnas, Virginia Organizer for Food & Water Action. “Poultry companies must provide their workers necessary protections so that they can keep themselves and their families healthy, and don’t need to fear losing their income if they do get sick. Governor Northam and the Health Board should require aggressive testing, transparent results, the best PPE available, and, of course, paid sick leave. We can’t let these companies get away with treating their workers as disposable by putting profits before people.”