(Washington DC) - Meat processing plants ordered to remain open by the president doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the growing backlog of animals and potential food shortages.
Enough workers have to feel safe enough from COVID-19 to want to return to their jobs in the plants.
James Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, said he believes the processing plants are doing the testing and other things needed to gain the confidence of their employees fearing infection.
Roth said how many of them return once the shuttered plants reopen or continue to work at facilities still operating, though, remains to be seen. He said, “I’m sure many are willing to go back to work but it takes a lot of people to keep one of these plants going.”
Some workers protested when president Trump citing a threatened food supply chain as a crisis implemented the Defense Production Act to keep the plants running. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union with more than 250,000 members were among the labor organizations calling for states to get involved in assuring safe workplaces.
“The best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone.