Protesters voice concerns at business in Morganton over bathroom breaks


by Dave Faherty

One of Morganton's largest employers is coming under fire because of the number of bathroom breaks it gives employees.

Organizers of a protest Monday outside Case Farms claim some workers are wearing diapers because they can't use the restroom when needed.

Current workers did not come out of the plant for fear of retaliation.  

The chicken-processing plant has been in Morganton for years, not far from downtown.

Along the sidewalk out front, dozens of people protested for the people working inside Case Farms over bathroom breaks.

The protesters demanded changes be made and want to have a sit-down meeting with managers.

"They are not getting breaks when you have to go to the bathroom,” said Hunter Ogletree, of the Western North Carolina Workers Center. “People are compelled to wear diapers when they come to work because they are not able to go to the bathroom when they need to go."

Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty was with the group as they took a letter up the main walkway leading to the plant only to be turned back by a security guard and ordered to stay off the property.

Former workers are speaking up for those inside who describe the conditions.

They said sometimes they were on the production line for two and half hours before getting a 10-minute break to use the bathroom. If they step off the line before then, they said they were written up. 

"It was very sad because they don't give access to go to the bathroom when workers have the biological need to go to the bathroom,” said Irma Mato, a former worker. "Her stomach would hurt. Your feet would hurt. You can't move."

The security guard did take the letter asking for a closed-door meeting next month at a local church.

The group is waiting for a response from the company. 

"We want them to respect labor and human rights, but if they don't, then we have to escalate the actions,” said Martha Ojeda, of Interfaith Worker Justice.

Channel 9 asked the organizers what happens if they don't get the meeting and if a strike was possible. They said that would be up to the workers.   

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