LULAC: SMITHFIELD FOODS PLANT INSPECTION REVIEW
Nation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Issues Findings on Company’s Steps to Protect Latino Workers
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today issued its report on the meatpacking giant Smithfield Foods after a recent visit and unrestricted tour inside the company’s facilities and stated it sees improvements by the food producer to ensure the safety of Latino and other employees from COVID-19.
“Smithfield Foods has spent substantial funds to upgrade the safety conditions of Smithfield workers in this pandemic and we are hoping to see the number of COVID cases continue to go down at their plants,” says Domingo Garcia, National President. “LULAC is the only civil rights organization that has entered and reviewed firsthand the company’s practices which I would describe as a good transparency policy in improving employee safety. Our organization is committed to working with Smithfield and its employees in this fight against COVID-19. Having free on-site testing for all employees was a first we have seen in any of the meat plants we have visited so far”.
Several weeks ago, LULAC presented Smithfield Foods with a very specific list of demands in changes that workers told us they needed including being provided more personal protection equipment (PPE), installing partitions in the production areas and slowing down the line to reduce the risks within an industry hard hit by COVID-19. They also wanted more testing and assurances that employees who could not work because they were sick would not lose their pay or be fired. I can tell you from what I have seen that Smithfield Foods met most of the demands, so progress has been made in what is still very much an on-going process. Monitoring will continue as we go into the winter months.
LULAC requested and received unrestricted access to the Smithfield Foods plant without preconditions while agreeing to follow the company’s safe distancing policies. Garcia and LULAC leadership toured the plant with Kenneth Sullivan and shared concerns about the safety and well-being of essential workers at Smithfield Foods and across the industry. Sullivan informed LULAC that the company’s primary focus has been worker safety and that they put aside all production quotas and key performance indicators. Smithfield Foods has also implemented ionized filtration systems at 18 of its plants and is continuing to make investments to update its infrastructure with new tools and technology to ensure a safe working environment.LULAC will work with workers and management to make sure progress is maintained and that worker safety comes first.
“Taking action, going in where others may not, and doing what others only talk about, is the legacy of LULAC. We will continue to fight and defend meatpacking workers because they are national heroes who are keeping our economy going and making sure our food supply is steady. Their safety and health should be a top priority,” says Sindy Benavides, National Chief Executive Officer.
“Smithfield has the duty and the opportunity through its continued investment in worker safety, to be a bellwether for the industry. Their investment in free onsite testing and paid sick leave for all of its employees set Smithfield Foods apart from other meatpacking companies. We encourage every company in the industry to follow suit and implement free onsite testing for all its employees as well as paid sick leave without a limit on total time off,” she added.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/