Worker Rights

Retired USDA Inspector: Alabama Immigration Law Impacting Latino Poultry Workers

Alabama_state_sealPhyllis McKelvey is a retired Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Inspector who spent 44 years working in the poultry sector (both for private industry and the government). Yesterday, I reported her concerns about HIMP, the USDA plan to unsafely privatize poultry oversight. In a recent interview with GAP, this longtime Alabamian highlighted the importance of the Latino work force throughout the industry – and how Alabama’s new immigration law has had a major impact on Hispanic poultry workers in the state.

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Serious Workplace Safety Issues Raised at Chicken Producer Sanderson Farms

poultry_lineSanderson Farms, the third largest poultry producer in the United States, is coming under fire for an unsafe and hostile work environment at its chicken processing plant in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. One former employee, who worked at the plant for four years, said he was fired for raising concerns about working conditions to his supervisor.

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Forced Labor in Walmart Supply Chain: Guestworkers Blow the Whistle!

walmart_att UPDATE 6/30/12: Walmart announced it has suspended C.J's Seafood after Walmart's own investigation uncovered violations of some of its supplier standards.

Inadequate whistleblower protections already leave many American food industry workers vulnerable to retaliation for speaking out against exploitative practices, so you can imagine how guestworkers (hired from abroad) are treated.

Last year, student guestworkers risked their jobs exposing harsh working conditions at a Hershey packing plant in Pennsylvania. Now, guestworkers are trying to hold Walmart accountable for atrocious labor conditions along its food supply chain.

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Food Chain Worker Conference Held Amidst Grim Report

handsthatfeedusThe working conditions of individuals employed all along the food chain – equaling about 20 million people – are detailed in a new report released yesterday by the Food Chain Workers Alliance in conjunction with its Food Workers & Food Justice Conference in New York City (of which FIC attended and facilitated a panel).

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OSHA Announces Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee

osha_logoThe Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the federal body that investigates whistleblower retaliation complaints – announced last week its plan to establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee.

The committee will make recommendations on "ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of OSHA's administration of whistleblower protections." In particular, it will make recommendations regarding the development and implementation of better customer service to workers who raise complaints, improvement in the investigative and enforcement process, the training of OSHA investigators, cooperative activities with federal agencies, and other relevant matters.

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Court Upholds Order to Reinstate Fired Farmworker

raspberryA new California law that strengthens farmworkers' right to unionize is facing its first test case, and so far officials appear to be on the side of the farmworker – a novelty in an industry where intimidation against migrant workers is a common occurrence.

Dutra Farms, one of the state's prominent raspberry growers, allegedly fired Dalia Santiago in February for union organizing. She had worked on the farm for eight years. After investigating, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board – thanks to new provisions that went into effect January 1 – concluded Dutra was engaging in unfair labor practices, and won a court order requiring that Santiago be hired back immediately.

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Farm Workers Don't Report Sexual Assault for Fear of Reprisal: Protecting Them is a Win-Win

A new report from Human Rights Watch titled Cultivating Fear:The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment,

. . . describes rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, or vulgar and obscene language by supervisors, employers, and others in positions of power.

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