Big names in the poultry industry are being called out for disregarding the dignity and health of its workers; Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms — the four that make up 60% of the US poultry market — are being specifically named in the “No Relief” press release that slams employers for denying bathroom breaks, leading to workers wearing diapers, urinating and defecating themselves while on the poultry processing line.
On the Pilgrim’s Pride website, “prioritize the team over yourself” is one of the poultry producer’s core values. For real, it says that.
But in something out of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Bloomberg notes, the Oxfam America report suggests that “value” is really a humiliating issue for already marginalized workers in the US poultry industry (which the report notes is enjoying record profits): a denial of bathroom breaks, keeping their fluid intake at dangerously low levels, and wearing diapers on the job.
The “No Relief” report was compiled over three years via hundreds of interviews with current and ex-workers, medical experts, and advocacy groups.
“It’s not just their dignity that suffers: They are in danger of serious health problems,” the report reads.
Per the report, supervisors poke fun at, threaten, or turn a blind eye to bathroom break requests, imposing strict time limits and forcing workers to wait more than an hour in some cases.
Not only would these allegations be violations of OSHA “sanitary standards,” such practices would also pose serious health risks, including UTIs (especially for women), kidney infections, and pressure on the bladder and urethra that could prove fatal.
While Sanderson’s CFO wouldn’t comment on the report when contacted by Bloomberg, the other three companies all issued outraged statements noting they’ll be checking up on the veracity.
“Poultry workers are some of the most vulnerable people in our country—most are minorities and immigrants, some are recently resettled refugees,” says a National Employment Law Project fellow. “Poultry companies know they can get away with [these] practices, because these workers are too fearful to speak up.”
This article originally appeared on Newser: US Poultry Workers Wear Diapers: Report
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