Reviews | We feed America, but we sacrifice ourselves
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We feed America, but we sacrifice ourselves
Tyson Foods continues to run its processing lines at breakneck speed, preventing workers from socially distancing themselves
I work in a Tyson Foods processing plant. I help process the chicken for packaging. I cut the necks of the chickens. I pull the fat from the chicken. By pulling the fat out, you pull a leg on a chicken and you pull it out like this. I do it like the karate style. [LAUGHS] It’s very fast. It’s very, very intense. Line speeds are designed to run 140 birds per minute. Not everyone is even at arm’s length. [CLUCKING] There is absolutely no way to socially distance yourself within these factories. Meat processing plants across the country have become Covid-19 hotspots. More than 10,000 workers in poultry and meat factories have contracted the virus. At least 30 have died. We now have masks and temperature controls. Tyson even put up plastic barriers between workers. But there isn’t much that can do when we’re cramped on these lines. The reason our factories continue to be super spreaders is that Tyson forces us to process so much chicken very quickly. At the rate they have to get these orders processed, it is physically impossible to distance themselves socially. If you slow down the lines, you will need fewer workers. And in doing so, we may be able to distance ourselves from each other and be more secure. We can feed America, but we sacrifice ourselves. I’ve been with Tyson for almost a year and a half. I am very proud to work for the biggest company that produces chicken for this country. I have always been a dedicated worker at Tyson Foods. I was very proud of my work. They said either you come to work or you will be fired. But at the moment, I don’t think it’s safe enough. In March, my mother was diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis. I couldn’t carry this weight on my shoulders if I had to bring this virus home without knowing I had it and giving it to her. From my hypertension, having a blood disorder puts me a little more at risk. But I’m still going to sacrifice myself every day to make sure the people in America are taken care of. Chicken is the most popular meat in this country. And Tyson is the biggest producer of poultry. Here is how it works. The government regulates the speed at which these factories can operate. So companies like Tyson are pushing for ever faster line speeds. The Trump administration has relaxed regulations. They allow companies to speed up chicken production lines. Even with these outbreaks at Tyson’s factories, John Tyson, the president of the company, ran a full-page newspaper ad asking that these factories remain open. And President Trump listened. We work with Tyson, which is one of the great companies in this world. The president will demand that meat processing facilities remain open. My family supports the Trump administration. However, Tyson and the President prioritize supplying the supermarket over the safety of workers like me. Tyson, slow down your production line so that we can socially distance ourselves within these factories. How can we feed America if we all get sick?
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Opinion Video offers innovative video journalism commentary – reasoned essays, opinion videos, documentaries and factual explanations of current affairs. The videos are produced by both external videographers and the Times Opinion Video team.
Opinion Video offers innovative video journalism commentary – reasoned essays, opinion pieces, documentaries and factual explanations of current affairs. The videos are produced by both external videographers and the Times Opinion Video team.