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 such as Sen. Cornyn and the Trump administration, who rather than taking the blame for the mass hysteria and spread of the virus, continue to ‘dog whistle‘ over coronavirus, blaming China and inflaming anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Instead of standing in solidarity with essential frontline workers, Sen. Cornyn is sending a message of support to big meatpacking companies: “we’ll cover for you”. The Trump executive order to stay open comes at a time that COVID outbreaks among workers are spiking and insufficient protections are in place. As usual, Republicans have fallen in line to back up the president and McConnell and Cornyn are leading a push for new legal liability protections to stave off litigation that might protect workers risking their lives on the frontline.
Cornyn has demonstrated apathy for the risks workers face during this crisis which serves as further evidence that Republicans are more invested in protecting the bottom line of mega corporations instead of the lives of meatpacking workers.
Joe Biden’s remarks expressing the opposite sentiment come as COVID-19 hotspots continue to emerge at meatpacking plants, with new attention to outbreaks in Texas. Biden prioritized protecting and showing appreciation for frontline workers instead of sacrificing their health in service of corporate profits. 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.”
For most immigrant workers in the plant, afraid to lose their jobs, they have no choice.
They have to take care of their family here. They have to take care of families back home. Because of their status, they didn’t go to school. People are taken advantage of…People are running like crazy. People are getting hurt … People are trapped. It’s horrible.
According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Manager for America’s Voce:
In Texas like so much of the nation, meatpacking plants rely on immigrant labor to function. When President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to benefit his corporate donors, he prioritized profits, not people. And, of course, Senator John Cornyn, who knows the history of immigrant labor at meatpacking companies in our state, didn’t lift a finger to support the workers.
But, he has long represented corporate profits over the needs of Texans, and unfortunately it’s no different under a deadly pandemic. Forcing meatpacking plants in Texas to open, despite a severe lack of testing in the state and a lack of protective equipment will undoubtedly lead to a spike in infections and deaths, that will disproportionately affect immigrants and people of color who make up the majority of plant workers.
But in Trump’s and his cronies’ efforts to hastily reopen the country, they again show the stark contrast voters face this November.
Texans are looking for elected officials that put the wellbeing of all of us over the profits of corporations and Cornyn’s desire to provide cover for the President’s ample shortcomings. John Cornyn hasn’t taken the Covid outbreak seriously from the beginning and Texans deserve better.