Hybrid Hearing on "How the Meatpacking Industry Failed the Workers Who Feed America"
On Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, will hold a hybrid remote/in-person hearing entitled “How the Meatpacking Industry Failed the Workers Who Feed America,” examining the impact of the pandemic on America’s essential workers at meatpacking plants across the country. The hearing will highlight new data obtained by the Select Subcommittee on coronavirus infection rates and deaths among workers at the five largest meatpacking conglomerates in the nation, which disproportionately impacted rural Americans and communities of color.
At the onset of the pandemic, America’s largest meat companies failed to put adequate measures in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in their facilities, leading to some of the nation’s first and largest outbreaks, which resulted in high rates of avoidable illness and death among plant workers, their families, and communities. At the same time, the companies achieved record profits, with high prices burdening consumers already struggling under the impact of the pandemic. Despite these abuses, the Trump Administration refused to hold the large meatpacking conglomerates accountable and failed to empower federal agencies to properly protect workers against illness and death.
In the absence of federal leadership under the Trump Administration and in response to the too slow and often inadequate responses of the large meatpacking companies, meatpacking workers and their advocates demanded better conditions as they continued feeding the American people. The Biden-Harris Administration is responding swiftly to aid and protect these workers, providing $1.4 billion in pandemic assistance to coronavirus-impacted food and farm workers, distributing up to $600 per worker in relief payments to impacted frontline meatpacking workers and farmworkers, and mandating crucial vaccines and testing.
This week’s hearing will review previous missteps and current successes and determine future actions needed to protect essential meatpacking industry workers. The Select Subcommittee launched its investigation into widespread coronavirus infections and deaths at meatpacking plants on February 1, 2021.
Ms. Debbie Berkowitz
Practitioner Fellow, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, on behalf of Georgetown University
Ms. Rose Godinez
Interim Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska
Ms. Magaly Licolli
Co-Founder & Executive Director, Venceremos
Mr. Martin Rosas
President, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2