Yesterday, Joe Biden spoke to a virtual town hall organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), sending a message of support and solidarity to meatpacking industry workers. He told them, “we owe you.”
This is in sharp contrast to the push of Republicans and the Trump administration, who are sending a message of support to big meatpacking companies. Their message: “we’ll cover for you” – with a Trump executive order to stay open despite COVID outbreaks among workers, and a McConnell and Cornyn-led push for new legal liability protections to stave off litigation that might protect the workers.
Per Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News, Biden yesterday “shared screen time with the children of meat processing plant workers who are infected with the coronavirus and have taken their infections home from work.” Biden stressed that meatpacking workers “deserve additional pay, protective equipment and priority for coronavirus tests.”
As Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News further highlighted, Biden also criticized the push by Trump, the GOP and their big corporate allies to force meat processing workers back to unsafe jobs without proper health protections:
“They designate them as essential workers and then treat them as disposable … Meatpacking has always been hard work. It’s always been dangerous, it’s always been underpaid and now add to that the threat of COVID-19, made all the worse by fear that workers are living with every single day.”
Biden’s remarks come as new COVID-19 hotspots continue to emerge at meatpacking plants, with new attention to outbreaks in Texas and Missouri. As the Texas Tribune reports, 159 workers at a Cactus, TX meatpacking plant operated by JBS have tested positive so far, but “about 3,000 workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala and refugees from Asia and Africa, still report there each day.” And CNN reports that “373 employees and contract workers at Triumph Foods in Buchanan County, Missouri, have tested positive for coronavirus. All of them were asymptomatic…”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The contrast could not be clearer.
Joe Biden and the Democratic Party see workers of diverse backgrounds and say we owe you. We owe you health, protection, pay and gratitude.
Meanwhile, Trump, McConnell, Cornyn and the Republican Party see corporate bosses, many of whom are donors, and say we’ll cover for you. We’ll protect you at all costs, even if it costs the lives of workers and their families.
The choice we face in 2020 is between those who stand with ordinary people – white and black, Latino and Asian, native and newcomer – as they work hard and serve our nation, and those who stand with the wealthy few who put profits over people and political power over public health.