Faith and Labor Leaders To Deliver Letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Urging Rejection of Plan to Increase Line Speeds in Poultry Processing Plants

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Media contact: Ian Pajer-Rogers |

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 12, 2017) — Following a Government Accountability Office report that confirmed allegations of worker abuse and unsafe working conditions, a coalition of faith and labor leaders will hold a short rally and press conference before delivering an open letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg urging the USDA to reject the loosening of regulations regarding line speeds at poultry processing plants.

Poultry line speeds have for years been capped at 140 birds per minute, a rate that already causes countless injuries and illnesses  every year to the workers who must make the same two or three cuts thousands of time over the course of a single shift.  Carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic injuries are common, as are amputations.

For years, Interfaith Worker Justice affiliates across the country have been engaged in a worker-led, coalition effort to reform the poultry processing industry and ensure that every worker is safe on the job and can have access to legally required bathroom  breaks , a common complaint among the workers. But now, industry lobbyists are working  to pressure the USDA to allow  poultry plants to disregard legal regulations and  to increase their  line speeds to as fast as they would like , an illegal petition that will put working people in greater risk of permanent injury, or worse.

A delegation representing the coalition will deliver a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Under Secretary Rottenberg urging them to keep line speeds as they are and reject industry pressure to deregulate.

WHO: Featured at the press conference will be workers and campaign organizers from Interfaith Worker Justice, the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center, Centro de Derechos Laborales from Texas, Western North Carolina Workers’ Center, Oxfam America, National Employment Law Project, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and United Food and Commercial Workers.

WHERE: National Mall outer gravel walkway between 12th-14th St and Jefferson Drive outside the United States Department of Agriculture building

WHEN: Tuesday, December 12 at 12pm EST