Monday, June 29, 2020

Workers in the U.S. Died to Produce Meat for China

 When Corona Virus deaths rose, meat packing companies declared that there was an impending shortage of meat.  They got the Trump Administration to declare meat packing as an essential industry and to (force) the companies to stay open. 

It turns out, there was plenty of meat.  So much, that the corporations were selling  129,000 tons of processed meat to China and an inflated price.  Yes, to China, during the crisis.  It seems China, not the U.S., had a meat shortage.  At this time China was imposing strict limits on the export of protective equipment like masks.  The U.S. had become dependent upon Chinese suppliers, and when we needed the supplies they were not there. 

Meanwhile, workers in the U.S. died to produce this meat.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in an Iowa meat plant outbreak sued Tyson Foods and its top executives Thursday, saying the company knowingly put employees at risk and lied to keep them on the job.
The lawsuit alleges that Tyson officials were aware the virus was spreading at the Waterloo pork processing plant by late March or early April but kept that information from employees and the public.
As the outbreak grew, the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to remain on the production line, and falsely assured workers and the public that the plant was safe, the suit alleges. 
“Tyson intended by these false representations to deceive workers in the Waterloo facility ... and to induce them to continue working despite the uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak at the plant and the health risks associated with working,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Black Hawk County district court.
So, the companies got their way. They made their profits.  Workers died. All with the cooperation of the Trump administration. 

Oh well. they were immigrant workers. 

Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey sent a letter late Monday to the chief executives of Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill and JBS, criticizing them for exporting to China at the same time they were lobbying the Trump administration to keep their plants open during the pandemic because they wanted to keep feeding Americans.
The senators said the companies were putting their workers’ lives in danger while also raising food prices for American consumers.
“This pattern of behavior raises questions about whether you are living up to your commitments to the workers who produce your pork and beef, the communities in which you operate and the nation’s consumers that rely on your products to feed their families,” Ms. Warren and Mr. Booker wrote.
The letter was prompted by an article in The New York Times last week detailing how pork exports to China totaled a record 129,000 tons in April, when the profitable demand in that country surged.
Representatives for Tyson and Cargill declined to comment on the letter. Smithfield, which is owned by a Chinese company, and JBS did not return requests for comment.

By David Bacon
Stansbury Forum, 6/29/20

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