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SPLC Action: Line Speed Limits Critical to Essential Worker Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) today reintroduced the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act, legislation that would ban the increase of poultry and meatpacking plant line speeds during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law would suspend all current and future USDA waivers and regulations that allow companies to increase production line speeds at meatpacking plants throughout the pandemic.

The following statement is from Julia Solórzano, staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project. 

“We applaud the reintroduction of the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act. The Act would provide a critical layer of protection for the safety of workers in the poultry and meatpacking industries, who are overwhelmingly people of color and immigrants. This legislation marks an important step in ensuring we leave no worker behind.

“Federal action is long overdue to provide protections to these essential workers who have kept food on our tables throughout the pandemic. These industries are rife with abuse and dangerous working conditions, issues which COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated. 

“Yet corporations have repeatedly sought to increase line speeds in what can only be seen as their prioritization of their bottom line over the health and safety of frontline workers. As a result of increased line speeds, poultry workers suffer exceptionally high rates of injury, ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis to amputations and fatalities. We must do better. 

“Every worker, regardless of their immigration status, deserves safety and dignity on the job. The federal government must ensure a safe and just workplace for food processing workers. Congress must send this bill to the White House as quickly as possible.