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Farmworkers & Meatpacking Workers Say They Aren't Being Protected From COVID-19

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP
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A vineyard woker in Clarksburg, Calif., last month. Farms continue to operate as essential businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On this edition of Your Call, we’ll talk about farmworkers and meat processing plant workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Farmworkers say rural communities are not prepared, they don’t have the proper gear and they fear getting sick. The Trump Administration recently announced they would lower wages for foreign guest workers on American farms. Smithfield Foods closed its South Dakota pork processing plant after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus. A Tyson pork plant in Iowa has also closed. How can we ensure these workers are protected and paid fair wages?

Guests:

Greg Asbed, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Gerardo Reyes Chávez, member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Debbie Berkowitz, director of the Worker Safety and Health Program at the National Employment Law Project

Dr. Angela Stuesse, cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina and author of Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South

Web Resources:

NPR, Franco Orodoñez: White House Seeks To Lower Farmworker Pay To Help Agriculture Industry

NY Times, Greg Asbed: What Happens if America’s 2.5 Million Farmworkers Get Sick?

LA Times, Andrea Castillo: Farmworkers face coronavirus risk: 'You can't pick strawberries over zoom'

PayDay Report, Mike Elk: Immigrant Meatpackers Fightback Against Intimidation & Death Traps 

AP News, Smithfield closes South Dakota pork plant due to coronavirus

NBC News, Suzanne Gamboa: Latinos' coronavirus deaths at meat processing plant raise alarms about worker safety