Where That Turkey Comes From


Photo credit: Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

Each year as the holiday season approaches, the nation’s appetite for poultry products grows exponentially. Consumption of chicken and other poultry is on the rise every year, with just a handful of mega-corporations controlling the production and supply chains.

Now these same corporations are pushing the Department of Agriculture to ease rules regulating line speeds in poultry plants, putting the lives of the working people in these plants even further into danger. While the increased production will further pad the corporate bottom line, those working women and men being asked to work faster and faster will likely never see a penny.

This Thanksgiving week, as we gather together in gratitude for the blessings and good grace that we’ve experienced this year, please consider saying a prayer or offering explicit thanks for those working women and men in poultry processing plants, who all year long work at breakneck speeds, putting their own health and safety on the line.

The abuses in poultry plants are rife. The combination of lax regulation and the industry’s penchant for hiring undocumented workers create an environment where working people are either unaware or too afraid to seek recourse when they have been the victim of abuses ranging from illegal line speeds and other serious health and safety violations to indignities like the denial of bathroom or water breaks, even for pregnant or sick workers.

What’s more, big poultry corporations are lobbying Congress to pass the Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092), which would allow them to hire unskilled immigrant laborers who often end up the victims of wage theft, human trafficking, or much worse and who have even fewer options for seeking justice in the face of these abuses.

Interfaith Worker Justice has long been part of a national coalition effort to end these abuses in poultry plants across the country. And we’ve seen real results.

But in the context of the Trump Administration’s war on workers, poultry corporations are going all in to try normalize these abuses as just part of doing business and leaning on the federal government to codify these abuses into accepted law.

That’s why Interfaith Worker Justice joined sixteen other faith organizations to call on Congress to reject the Agricultural Guestworkers Act and pass legislation banning the increased line speeds favored by the poultry industry.

You can read the letter here.

In the meantime, stay tuned for ways you can take action to bring justice to the poultry industry in 2018 and beyond!