Poultry worker's death highlights spread of coronavirus in meat plants
The coronavirus pandemic has reached the processing plants where workers typically stand elbow-to-elbow to do the low-wage work of cutting, deboning and packing the chicken and beef that Americans savor. Some plants have offered financial incentives to keep them on the job, but the virus’s swift spread is causing illness and forcing plants to close.
... At some plants, workers have staged walkouts over concerns that they are not being properly protected. But an untold number remain on the job, most of them African-Americans, Latinos and immigrants... “How many more have to fight for their life, how many more families got to suffer before they realize we are more important than their production,” said Tanisha Isom... who has worked at Tyson for years and earns $12.95 an hour. “Our work conditions are out of control. We literally work shoulder to shoulder daily,” she said. She said that two people she works closely with are currently fighting for their lives.
... Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Tyson Foods, said the company was taking the temperature of workers before they entered and had implemented social-distancing measures. These included dividers between work stations and slower production lines to widen the space between workers... [W]orkers and union leaders said the response by Tyson and other chicken companies, which produce the bulk of the nation’s meat supply, has been inadequate.