While most industries were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in the meatpacking industry suffered immensely, as they worked side by side indoors.
Public Citizen Litigation Group Attorney Adam Pulver spoke up for these workers and insisted that something be done to protect them on America’s Work Force Union Podcast. He also called for proper funding of organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Struggles of the meatpacking industry
In the meatpacking industry, employees tend to work long hours standing side-by-side as they package food. The industry is vital to the U.S. and was declared essential. However, Pulver said little to no protections were added for these workers.
While nothing happened under the Trump administration, Pulver called on the Biden administration to step up and demand protections for these essential workers. While the pandemic is still ongoing, meatpacking workers are still getting sick and working with few protections.
Pulver said Emergency Temporary Standards are a good start, but more needs done to make lasting changes. OSHA should enforce rules on employers and issue fines to those who do not follow the rules.
Funding OSHA and other labor agencies
The Trump administration downsized OSHA through attrition, as they did not fill positions when people retired or moved to another agency. The pandemic left the remaining workers overwhelmed and unable to keep up with complaints and reports.
Pulver suggested increasing the budget size for OSHA and other agencies who protect workers. Additional employees would allow OSHA to pay closer attention to employers who repeatedly violate orders. Additionally, the agency could conduct more field investigations in major cases.