League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)—the country’s oldest and largest Latino civil-rights organization—is calling consumers to boycott meat on Mondays in May to bring awareness to the plight of workers in the meat industry. According to LULAC, 80 percent of the meat processing workforce is comprised of undocumented workers and refugees, and the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing their exploitation by the meat industry. Earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order, which afforded meat companies added liability protections should their workers get ill, to reopen meat plants after 20 slaughterhouses closed as an increasing number of workers—who work shoulder-to-shoulder, often without appropriate protective equipment and little break time for sanitation needs—contracted COVID-19.
“To confront the gross negligence of the meat corporations and government officials from both political parties, LULAC is calling for ‘Meatless May Mondays,’” LULAC President Domingo Garcia said. “We are asking our community of 60 million members, and the entire country, to stand with essential workers and not purchase or consume any meat products once a week to highlight the need for protections for these workers. Until the meat industry, federal, and state governments protect the lives of essential workers at all meat processing facilities in a federally mandated and verifiable manner, LULAC will call for boycotts of meat products.”
This week, meat giant JBS reopened its beef plant in Greeley, CO after engaging in nefarious testing practices where it only administered COVID-19 tests to managers and supervisors and, upon learning that approximately 40 percent were positive for the virus, ceased testing, leaving 6,000 of its frontline workers to fend for themselves. At Tyson Foods’ Logansport, IN—which, as of today, remains closed—890 of the 2,200-employee workforce tested positive for COVID-19 in less than one week. On Monday, Smithfield Foods plans to reopen its pig slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls, SD—where 230 workers tested positive for the virus in mid April.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump consistently showed American workers that he puts profits over people,” LULAC President Domingo Garcia said. “The news that the President [invoked] the Defense Production Act to secure the nation’s food supply, instead of mandating OSHA to ensure meat processing plants are safe for workers, sends a clear message about his administration’s priorities: corporate billionaires’ profits are more important than human lives.”