Every day, poultry workers are working in some of the most dangerous and stressful conditions in this country. During this time of crisis, the dangers of working in this industry are only heightened. It is time for workers to receive the protections they deserve.
In Arkansas alone, where Tyson is headquartered, over 30,000 workers are producing the chicken that ends up on plates all across the country. While workers in other “essential” industries are offered paid sick leave and other protections, poultry workers have received little if anything.
Poultry workers do not have access to paid leave benefits, so workers are forced to continue working to avoid loss of income, their jobs, or out of fear of being penalized.
As COVID-19 spreads, the situation is more dangerous and direr for workers. Poultry workers should be considered a high-risk group due to the high amounts of chemicals they are exposed to everyday. These chemicals have resulted in permanent respiratory issues in workers.
Working while sick has consequences for workers and consumers because workers’ illnesses are prolonged, then other workers get infected, and eventually consumers are presented with the risk of food-borne illness.
We demand Tyson Foods, George’s Co, Simmons Foods, Ozark Mountain Poultry, and Cargill to pay leave benefits for workers. It is not enough to only allow workers to go home if they feel sick while they're not being paid for those absences, poultry companies have the duty to protect their workers fairly from any harm caused by COVID-19.
Poultry workers must also be compensated for being quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus that can potentially harm more workers in addition to receiving hazard pay for risking their lives as COVID-19 rapidly spreads in our communities. We demand that Tyson Foods and other poultry companies take the right steps to protect workers’ health and income to survive this crisis.
**Venceremos is a worker-based organization in Arkansas whose mission is to ensure human rights for poultry workers. **