Tagged as take action

RSS

How Increasing Poultry Line Speeds Could Make Chicken Unsafe to Eat

Oxfam estimates that each person eats 89 pounds of chicken a year – which means as a country, we’re eating close to 9 billion birds per year. It’s a major, multi-billion dollar industry that supplies us with chicken nuggets, wings, and the foundation for so many of our favorite, home-cooked meals.

It’s easy to cook, it’s affordable, and a mainstay in the meals American families share with one another.

But jobs inside poultry plants are some of the most dangerous and difficult in America. The National Chicken Council, which is the poultry industry’s main trade association and functions to represent its interests to Congress and other federal agencies, wants to do away with a key protection to keep workers safe on the job: line speeds.

Three Things You Should Know About Poultry Line Speeds

1.) By law, most poultry plants can run their processing lines at 140 birds per minute. That’s already insanely fast.

Federal law currently sets the line speed maximum at 140 birds per minute at most poultry facilities. To give you a sense of what that translates to in real life, that’s just a hair faster than the tempo for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” except where each beat is a chicken.

On the line itself, one employee can process more than 14,000 chickens each day. Depending on the job, each worker can process around 35-45 birds per minute – which rounds out to about 2,000 chickens per hour or nearly one chicken every two seconds.

Some plants are even allowed to operate at 175 BPM (for background on why some plants are allowed to be faster than others and for more examples of songs that match different line speeds, check out this great article from The New Food Economy). There are few things that we do each and every day that can even compare to that level of repetition.

2.) As line speed increases, safety decreases. And they want to eliminate line speeds entirely.

While there’s currently a speed limit in poultry plants, the National Chicken Council wants to eliminate them entirely.

As line speeds increase, so does the risk of injury—including serious and bloody cuts and amputations.

But faster line speeds also mean less time for federal meat inspectors and quality control workers to do their jobs and ensure the chicken you’re eating is safe to consume.

Want a better idea how fast poultry lines could move if they eliminate line speed limits? Here’s what 200 BMP sounds like, which is how fast Germany already allows their plants to run (with negative side effects, as explained in #3):

3.) Faster line speed also means inspectors have less time to watch out for food safety issues. That should make anyone feel queasy. 

If current line speeds are eliminated, federal inspectors who are tasked with spotting contaminated birds may be forced to examine more than two per second for abscesses, tumors, or other diseases.

The National Chicken Council argues that increased line speeds will help modernize the system, and keep up with international competitors.

But countries which allow faster line speeds have more issues with food safety. Germany allows line speeds up to 200 BPM and their poultry meat is found to have higher levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination.

Retired USDA food safety inspector Phyllis McKelvey spoke out about the dangers of increasing line speed in an interview with NPR earlier this year:

“These machines will pull the viscera, which is the guts of the chicken. And a lot of times the guts hang on their prongs and those machines just get covered up in guts, which is slinging manure all over the product,” she says.

In the live hang section, McKelvey said equipment failures would also occur in the stun bath, where birds are shocked with electricity. That would send fully conscious birds to a machine that would sever their necks.

“If the line is going too fast you have a lot of birds that don’t get stunned,” she says. “So you’ve got some birds going into the scald vats, alive.”

The USDA describes the new inspection system as more science-based in that it requires that all poultry facilities perform their own microbiological testing along with two federal inspectors. This leaves one inspector to view the carcasses.

But with fewer inspectors, McKelvey argues, plants are relying on more chemicals like peracetic acid or food bleach to reduce the chance of food contamination.

“And if they don’t have a proper air system, these chemicals are causing people to sneeze and cough. And even at that rate it gets so bad we’d have to shut the line down,” McKelvey says.

Here’s how you can take action to keep poultry workers safe on the job and chicken safe on your plate:

The USDA is currently accepting public comments on increasing line speed limits in poultry plants. Click here to submit your comment by December 13 and tell them we deserve safe food, and America’s poultry workers deserve safe workplaces. Tell the USDA today and to reject the National Chicken Council’s petition and keep safe line speed limits in poultry plants.

Originally posted on UFCW.org

Join Us to March Against Trump’s Anti-Worker Agenda (UPDATED)

The inauguration of the most unpopular President-elect in modern history is only a week away and union members will be joining with countless other organizations to say no to Donald Trump’s anti-worker agenda.

Labor union members, leaders and organizers will be participating in two marches to show our opposition to Trump’s proposed attacks on working men and women. Join us!

Friday, January 20, 2017 – Festival of Resistance: March Against Trump

12:00 p.m. Noon

Join the labor contingent on the east side of Columbus Circle, Washington, D.C.

DC-area labor union members, leaders, organizers, and staff are mobilizing for the Festival of Resistance, a march from Columbus Circle to McPherson Square, on January 20th. We’re calling on all union members – wherever you’re from – to join us!

Union members are encouraged to wear their union’s shirts/colors and to meet on the east side of Columbus Circle no later than 11:45 a.m. The march will kick off around 12:00pm (noon).

This march, part of DisruptJ20, will be fully permitted and fun! There will be families, marching bands, puppets, and other displays that show the diversity and power of the resistance to Trump.

It’s critical that organized labor participate forcefully in these early days of the resistance, as basic worker and union protections will be among the first to be attacked.

Interested in doing more? Want to take direct action on January 20th? We’re doing that, too. Check out: https://www.facebook.com/events/764142167083262/ for details.

 

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – Women’s March on Washington

8:30 a.m.

UPDATED LOCATION: Join the labor contingent at Garfield Park (3rd St SE and G St SE) near Capitol South Metro.

Join thousands of women on January 21 to send a message to the new administration and to the world that we will do everything possible to defend and protect women’s rights to defend and protect women’s rights!

Those unable to attend the D.C. march, please click on the link below to find a march near you in both the U.S. and Canada.

https://www.womenmarch.org/

How To Report Scheduling Violations at Giant & Safeway

Report scheduling violations at ufcw400.org/1pm

Report scheduling violations at ufcw400.org/1pm

Is management violating your union contract?

We all know how hectic life can get. Between work, family, and other obligations, your time is precious. That’s why our union contracts with Giant & Safeway outline strict rules for managers who assign schedules at your store.

Unfortunately, all too often, managers ignore these rules and fail to post schedules on time or make changes to your shift without informing you properly. This not only makes it harder for you to plan your week, but it is a serious violation of our union contract.

Examples of scheduling violations:

Schedule is posted any time after 1:00 pm on Friday.

Schedule is incomplete when posted.

Schedule is changed without individually notifying employees.

Manager posts a sign telling employees to check schedule for changes instead of informing each employee individually.

Schedule does not list employees in order of seniority.

Report Scheduling Violations at Giant & Safeway

You can help us to ensure managers post schedules properly by reporting scheduling violations using the form below. We will file grievances to make sure every reported violation is addressed so you know your schedule and you can get back to what matters: planning your life on your time.