President Trump said he plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at addressing concerns about meat shortages. An estimated 6,500 are sick or have been exposed while working near someone who tested positive, the union says.
Trump's executive order gives Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue the authority "to determine the proper nationwide priorities and allocation of all the materials, services, and facilities necessary to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry, consistent with the guidance for the operations of meat and poultry processing facilities jointly issued by the CDC and OSHA".
Additionally, to protect the food supply and ensure these safety standards for workers are enforced, these plants must be constantly monitored by federal inspectors and workers must have access to representation to ensure their rights are not violated.
Tyson went on to praise employees for rising to the challenge during these hard times and promoted the company's commitment to providing a safe working environment.
Trump's executive order will stop legal complaints in their tracks as it orders processing plants supplying beef, chicken, turkey, eggs and pork to stay open.
The senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said if action was not taken, the vast majority of processing plants could have shut down for a period of time, reducing capacity by as much as 80 per cent. In the week since the county has seen cases increase to 1,346, but without test results, she said on Monday she could not determine how many were linked to Tyson.
Trump did not outline the specifics of the order, but said it would help ensure the United States food supply is not disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Critics said the move puts plant workers at risk.
It is impossible to keep protein on tables across America if our nation's meat plants are not running. More plants are on the verge of closing on account of sick workers or facilities that need to be sanitized.
On April 17, Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson told local media Tyson Foods should close the facility, which the company did do a week later. The president has long agitated for Americans to return to work and restore an economy crippled by social distancing measures. "So if one of them brings that to their homes, it's going to be more worse and a more serious problem", Goni said. Tyson Foods was reportedly considering a plan to keep only 20% of their facilities open. "Any changes to normal operations will be communicated with team members".
Alma Adams, a Democrat congresswoman from North Carolina who chairs the Workplace Protections Subcommittee told Bloomberg, "On Workers' Memorial Day of all days, the Trump Administration shouldn't decide which workers will be safe and which workers will be in mortal danger".
Smithfield has closed three pork processing plants in Missouri, Wisconsin and South Dakota, where one employee died and 518 employees are infected.
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