While the nation is working hard to keep food on the shelves, the Coronavirus is taking its toll on workers. There has been a lot of news about healthcare workers being infected. However, there has not been a lot of news on the people who work in the meatpacking industry, such as Georgia’s poultry workers. That changed this week.
Georgia is responsible for producing and packing about 15% of the chicken consumed in this country. They produce more than 31 million pounds of chicken and another 7 million eggs. In fact, the poultry industry in Georgia generates more than $41 billion in revenue.
This week, Mike Giles, the President of the Georgia Poultry Federation reported that almost 400 poultry workers in the state have tested positive for the virus. Sadly, this week, the industry suffered its first employee death. A 63-year old Hispanic man passed away from the virus. While it isn’t clear if he contracted the virus at work, they did confirm that he had underlying health issues. His name has not yet been released.
A lot of immigrants and refugees work in the poultry industry in Georgia. Employers are afraid that they may be reluctant to get tested because they fear they could be deported. This is why the poultry packing plants are taking huge steps to keep their plants clean and safe for their employees. So far, however, this doesn’t seem to be enough.
The federal government has promised to do what it takes to keep meat packing plants open despite the high infection rates. For the people who work in Georgia’s lucrative chicken packing industry, this will be received as both good and bad news.
If you work for a company and fear that you are at risk of infection, do what is best for you and your family. If you have any questions about your rights, call our office right away.