Line Speed Bills to Protect Meatpacking Workers Introduced by Senator Booker and Representative DeLauro

In response to outrage over COVID outbreaks at meat plants, bills enhance protections for workers

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Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) introduced a bill that aims to prohibit meat processing and slaughter plants from operating at dangerously high speeds — practices that have contributed to the COVID outbreaks at poultry, pig, and cattle facilities.

The bills would also suspend the implementation of the Trump administration’s ‘Self-Inspection’ Rules, which were crafted to allow companies to charge their own employees with carrying out safety inspections instead of government inspectors. 

A new Food & Water Watch analysis found that the plants piloting this inspection system had almost twice as many violations for carcass fecal and digestive matter.

Booker was joined by his colleagues Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Casey and Kirsten Gillibrand as original co-sponsors.  DeLauro was joined by Jan Schakowsky, Jeff Van Drew , Jim Cooper, Nanette Barragan, Grace Napolitano, Bobby Rush, Alan Lowenthal, Tom Suozzi  and Marcy Kaptur.  

The measures are endorsed by a broad coalition of consumer, animal welfare, and workers’ advocacy organizations.

In response to the announcement, Food & Water Watch Senior Staff Attorney Zach Corrigan released the following statement:

“The Trump administration’s approach to the pandemic was to do what the meat industry wanted: speed up production and reduce government oversight. This was dangerous and deadly. Meat plants that adopted faster line speeds had double the county-wide COVID-19 illnesses than other plants. Senator Booker and Congresswoman DeLauro have been leaders on agriculture and food safety, and we look forward to working hard with them to make this important bill into law.”