When COVID-19 hit the United States, many meatpacking facilities were slow to shut down or even limit production. Slaughter lines kept moving despite the unique risk of contracting the disease in crowded, poorly ventilated work conditions. Central Valley Meat (CVM), a California slaughterhouse that Animal Outlook investigated in 2012, was even slower.
Now, the San Diego-based firm representing one of CVM’s sick workers says that COVID-19 has infected at least 200 employees.
Plaintiff Maria Ornelas claims that she was exposed to another worker who tested positive for COVID-19 in April. The plant “…allowed multiple employees to return to work the day after they tested positive for COVID-19,” says the suit. It additionally states that “It is believed Central Valley Meat knowingly allowed at least one employee to work up to five (5) additional days after testing positive for COVID-19.”
According to the lawsuit, the plant’s sick leave and absence policies incentivize workers to return to the plant even before they have fully quarantined and recovered, and the kill and processing lines in slaughterhouses frequently make it impossible to socially distance.
Central Valley Meat’s disregard for its employees shouldn’t come as a shock considering the plant’s cruelty to animals and violation of federal laws relating to animal welfare and food safety, as revealed by Animal Outlook’s 2012 undercover video.
Meatpacking facilities like CVM are concerned with only one thing: profit. Meat consumption has always contributed to animal cruelty and the exploitation of workers. Now it’s exacerbating a global pandemic ravaging already marginalized communities across the United States.
To express solidarity for abused animals and exploited workers today, go meatless. For help making your vegan lifestyle sustainable and delicious, visit TryVeg.com.