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LULAC Responds To Trump Administration Declaring Meat Plants “Critical Infrastructure” And Treating

Nation’s Oldest & Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Reacts to Reports of Forthcoming Executive Order to Keep Meat Processing Facilities Open

Washington, DC - Today, Domingo Garcia, National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), issued the following statement regarding the safety and wellbeing of essential workers in the meatpacking industry, many of whom are Hispanic.

LULAC President Domingo Garcia stated:

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump consistently showed American workers that he puts profits over people. The news that the President will invoke the Defense Production Act to secure the nation’s food supply, instead of mandating OSHA to ensure meat processing plants are safe for workers, sends a clear message about his administration’s priorities: corporate billionaires’ profits are more important than human lives.

Thousands of essential workers in meat processing plants are sick with COVID-19, and many have died because of the Trump Administration, and the governors and health officials where these plants are located, who failed to protect them despite many calls for help. LULAC filed complaints with OSHA over three weeks ago asking for the agency to enforce the safety of these essential workers, and we’ve received no response to date. We’ve spoken to CEOs and union leaders to get voluntary testing for all workers, but that still hasn’t occurred. As dozens of plants are closing and workers like Saul Sanchez of Greeley, Colorado, are dying, the Administration’s decision to force essential workers to risk their lives so pork chops can keep coming to the White House is wrong and immoral.

To confront the gross negligence of the meat corporations and government officials from both political parties, LULAC is calling for ‘Meatless May Mondays.’ We are asking our community of 60 million members, and the entire country, to stand with essential workers and not purchase or consume any meat products once a week to highlight the need for protections for these workers. Until the meat industry, federal and state governments protect the lives of essential workers at all meat processing facilities in a federally mandated and verifiable manner, LULAC will call for boycotts of meat products. We will demand that all plants be closed for a least a week to disinfect, provide necessary PPE and slow down kill lines to ensure employees’ safety.

LULAC is also calling on President Trump to use his executive power to grant essential workers who need it immediate Temporary Protective Status (TPS) under immigration law. This would allow them to be tested for COVID-19, have access to healthcare and unemployment if sick, and not fear deportation. LULAC estimates 80 percent of the meat processing workforce is comprised of undocumented workers or refugees.

All Americans should join in protecting the health and safety of workers at America’s meat processing plants.”

In response to President Trump’s anticipated executive order to keep meat processing plants open, LULAC is calling for the following:

  • Slow meat processing lines so workers can socially distance by at least six feet, per CDC guidelines, and breathe effectively in their PPE masks;

  • Paid sick leave, so workers do not have to work while sick;

  • Full healthcare coverage for all workers who fall ill, including hospitalization, if needed;

  • Testing all workers for COVID-19, even those who are asymptomatic;

  • Grant all undocumented workers and refugees working at these facilities TPS to secure their legal standing in the U.S.;

  • Expand rest breaks and maintain hazard pay after May 30;

  • Provide safety information in different languages for immigrant workers.

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