WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, ACLU of Nebraska Interim Legal Director Rose Godinez testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in a hearing focused on the pandemic’s devastating impact on meatpacking workers.
During the hearing, the subcommittee shared results of an investigation showing deaths among workers in the meatpacking industry were nearly three times higher than previously estimated.
Godinez’s testimony covered the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Nebraskans of color, the lack of action to protect workers and the current need to implement stronger protections.
“I am grateful to be before you today and to have both of my parents, who retired shortly before the pandemic from meatpacking plants, alive and behind me today,” Godinez said in opening her testimony.
The testimony summarized advocates’ efforts to save workers’ lives, including an ACLU lawsuit that a judge dismissed because the plaintiffs no longer worked at the plant they were suing.
Godinez said more needs to be done to protect workers. She urged federal lawmakers to enact the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act and to call on OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for meatpacking workers. Godinez also stressed the importance of ensuring OSHA investigates complaints made by workers and supporting comprehensive immigration reform because a significant amount of meatpacking workers are undocumented.