Harvard Business School Working Knowledge: COVID-19 Shines New Light on Working Conditions in Supply Chains

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge: COVID-19 Shines New Light on Working Conditions in Supply Chains. “Tightly packed workers and other weak protections allowed COVID-19 to sweep through American slaughterhouses during the past year, infecting at least 45,000 employees and killing an estimated 240 people. To Harvard Business School Professor Michael Toffel, who has studied working conditions for more than 20 years, the devastation in meatpacking is just one example of how lax regulation can make a grave situation deadly.”

Washington Post: The Trump administration approved faster line speeds at chicken plants. Those facilities are more likely to have covid-19 cases.

Washington Post: The Trump administration approved faster line speeds at chicken plants. Those facilities are more likely to have covid-19 cases.. “Since 2018, the Trump administration has issued — or reissued — temporary waivers that grant permission to 54 poultry plants to increase line speeds. These plants are allowed to speed up lines from 140 to 175 birds per minute, a 25 percent increase. They are also 10 times as likely to have coronavirus cases than poultry plants without the line-speed waivers, according a Washington Post analysis of data collected by the nonprofit Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN). The Post analysis mirrors academic research that shows more coronavirus cases in counties with plants that have waivers to raise line speeds.”

Des Moines Register: In new allegation, lawsuit says Tyson officials lied to interpreters about COVID-19 dangers in Waterloo plant

Des Moines Register: In new allegation, lawsuit says Tyson officials lied to interpreters about COVID-19 dangers in Waterloo plant. “The amended suit, filed on behalf of the families of three Tyson workers who died from COVID-19, says plant manager Tom Hart and human resources director James Hook told interpreters during an April meeting that the building had ‘no confirmed cases’ and that Black Hawk County Health Department employees had ‘cleared’ the plant for operation. In fact, employees had tested positive for the virus, according to the amended suit, filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 24.”

Daily Beast: Meat-Plant Workers Slam Rogue Colorado Officials Over Refusal to Enforce COVID Rules

Daily Beast: Meat-Plant Workers Slam Rogue Colorado Officials Over Refusal to Enforce COVID Rules. “Meat-plant workers in Colorado condemned local leaders on Wednesday for refusing to enforce new state-directed COVID-19 safety restrictions, even after hitting a ‘level red’ designation over the region’s spiraling increase in coronavirus cases and dire hospital situation.”

Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants linked to 8 percent of early cases: study (The Hill)

The Hill: Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants linked to 8 percent of early cases: study. “Up to 8 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases could have their origins in outbreaks among workers at meatpacking plants, according to a new study. Researchers from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business analyzed coronavirus cases through the end of July and found between as many as 310,000 cases of the virus connected with proximity to meatpacking plants.”

Lawsuit: Tyson managers bet money on how many workers would contract COVID-19 (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Lawsuit: Tyson managers bet money on how many workers would contract COVID-19. “A wrongful death lawsuit tied to COVID-19 infections in a Waterloo pork processing plant alleges that during the initial stages the pandemic, Tyson Foods ordered employees to report for work while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the deadly virus.”

Bloomberg: Push on to speed up poultry production

Bloomberg: Push on to speed up poultry production. “Coronavirus cases are rising, but the Trump administration is making its last push to allow chicken slaughterhouses to speed up production lines, something seen as a potential threat to social distancing for production workers. Three days after the election, the U.S. Department of Agriculture submitted a proposal to raise the maximum line speed by 25% to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. That’s typically the last step before a proposed regulation is published.”

COVID-19 ravaged meat plants: My refugee mother’s life is worth more than the bottom line (USA Today)

USA Today: COVID-19 ravaged meat plants: My refugee mother’s life is worth more than the bottom line. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited JBS last month for failing to protect its employees in Greeley, Colorado, from being exposed to COVID-19. The company’s negligence cost one corporate employee and six workers at the plant their lives, including my mom, Tin Aye. Another 290 workers have confirmed positive cases as of mid-September. JBS denies it did anything wrong, but my mother, who worked for JBS for 12 years, was almost certainly exposed to COVID-19 in the Greeley meat packing plant, where she worked long, hard hours to keep America’s grocery stores well-stocked, and an endless supply of meat available for summer grilling. It made me sick to hear OSHA only fined JBS $15,615, the maximum allowed. That’s less than $3,000 per death. My mom’s life is […]

Washington Post: More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines.

Washington Post: More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines.. “Federal regulators knew about serious safety problems in dozens of the nation’s meat plants that became deadly coronavirus hot spots this spring but took six months to take action, recently citing two plants and finally requiring changes to protect workers. The financial penalties for a Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota and a JBS plant in Colorado issued last week total about $29,000 — an amount critics said was so small that it would fail to serve as an incentive for the nation’s meatpackers to take social distancing and other measures to protect their employees.”

ProPublica: Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19

ProPublica: Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19. “In documents dating to 2006, government officials predicted that a pandemic would threaten critical businesses and warned them to prepare. Meatpacking companies largely ignored them, and now nearly every one of the predictions has come true.”

Washington Post: He fled Congo to work in a U.S. meat plant. Then he — and hundreds of his co-workers — got the coronavirus.

Washington Post: He fled Congo to work in a U.S. meat plant. Then he — and hundreds of his co-workers — got the coronavirus. . “When local health officials moved to close one of the country’s biggest meatpacking plants amid a major coronavirus outbreak in April, Vice President Pence and one of the nation’s leading health officials pushed to keep the plant operating, against the advice of top local and state health officials, according to records and interviews. The JBS Greeley plant, which employs more than 3,000 people, closed and reopened eight days later. Since then, three plant workers have died of covid-19, bringing the total number of employee deaths from the virus to six, according to state health officials. All told, about 300 employees have tested positive, making the plant the site of Colorado’s third-largest outbreak.”

ProPublica: They Warned OSHA They Were in “Imminent Danger” at the Meat Plant. Now They’re Suing the Agency.

ProPublica: They Warned OSHA They Were in “Imminent Danger” at the Meat Plant. Now They’re Suing the Agency.. “The suit by workers at Maid-Rite Speciality Foods in Pennsylvania employs a rarely used legal tool and is the latest in a growing chorus of complaints about how the federal agency charged with protecting workers has responded to COVID-19.”