“Today’s rush […] to reopen 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.”

That’s according to United Food and Commercial Workers International Union president Marc Perrone. From reporting in Green Bay Press Gazette, the nation’s largest union for meatpacking workers is demanding accountability from the federal administration.

An executive order late last month mandated the re-opening of meatpacking plants across the country. Some facilities, such as JBS Packerland of Green Bay, had already been ravaged by dozens of cases of COVID-19. From the initial piece, union officials do not believe the order addresses “the need for increased coronavirus testing and other safety measures to protect workers and the nation’s food supply.”

The piece continues:

“The union called on the White House Coronavirus Task Force to increase worker testing, provide more personal protective equipment, halt line speed waivers, mandate social distancing and isolate workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19. The union does not feel those concerns have been addressed as the federal government pushes for meatpacking plants to reopen to sustain the nation’s food supply.

[…]

Nationwide, the union estimates 30 meatpacking workers have died due to COVID-19 and at least 30 plants have closed for a period of time in the last two months, affecting 45,000 workers. The closures have resulted in a 40% reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25% reduction in beef slaughter capacity.”

You can read about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Wisconsin meatpacking plants and the union’s call for accountability here.