Washington, D.C – The national advocacy groups Food & Water Watch and Venceremos filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission today, urging the agency to investigate and act on egregious examples of false and misleading descriptions of labor practices at Tyson Foods Inc. Specifically, the complaint, filed on behalf of the groups by Richman Law Group, notes that Tyson’s characterizations of employees operating in a “safe work environment” on “independent” family farms are false and misleading to consumers.
The complaint alleges that the company, in fact, ranks fifth among all American companies of any kind in frequency of severe injuries reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The complaint states, in part:
As a large and growing number of consumers become keenly interested in avoiding purchasing products that are produced by way of unsafe or unethical labor practices, producers like Tyson have sat up and taken note… For example, on its website, social media accounts, and in its Sustainability Report, Tyson falsely claims its contract growers are “independent farmers” and “family farmers” working in a system that is “transparent and offers long-term stability to farmers.” Tyson also falsely claims that it is “committed to improving the health and safety” of its slaughterhouse workers, and that “ensuring all of these tasks are done in the safest manner is its utmost priority.” In reality, however, Tyson’s contract growers have little to no freedom to make decisions for their chickens and barns, and are kept “in a state of indebted servitude” while under contract.
“Despite what it publicly claims, Tyson workers are far from safe. In fact, they’re among the most often and most seriously injured workers in America. Consumers have a legal right to fair and honest claims regarding the products they might buy, and Tyson is clearly failing to meet this standard,” said Zach Corrigan, Senior Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch. “The FTC needs to act now and compel Tyson to tell the alarming truth about the worker safety and public health impacts of its products.”
“Every day I hear dreadful stories about how Tyson treats its workers, who often express they’re treated worse than the chicken they process. The lack of protections for workers has been exacerbated during the pandemic by the inadequate response of Tyson to protect workers from the deadly virus,” said Magaly Licolli, Director of Venceremos. “It’s completely unacceptable to allow Tyson to continue misleading consumers and the public about how they treat workers. The FTC must investigate Tyson’s advertising and compel them to either remove unsupported claims about the work environment or act immediately and adequately to support those claims, providing the necessary conditions for worker’s health and safety.”
Venceremos is a worker-based grassroots organization in Arkansas that works to protect the fundamental human rights of poultry workers to achieve long-term systemic change in the poultry industry through building worker-driven solutions and engaging consumers and the public.
Food & Water Watch mobilizes people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people’s health, communities and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.