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Meatpacking Worker: ‘Bring the President Down…to Work Shoulder to Shoulder’ with Us

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Time for Trump and Administration Officials to Work a Full Shift Alongside Frontline Workers

In response to the Trump executive order that forces meatpacking plants to stay open despite mounting infections and deaths, Gary Harris, a 20-year worker at the Logansport, Indiana Tyson plant, told The Indianapolis Star:

…I think they should bring the president down here and have him work shoulder-to-shoulder and join the fun.

He added:

God help the people on the line. Everyone is scared and worried, no one knows who has it and who doesn’t because the company won’t say.

The New York Times recently reported that Trump’s executive order “followed weeks of lobbying behind the scenes and in public by meat companies led by Tyson Foods,” despite the fact that nearly 1,000 employees at the Logansport, Indiana Tyson pork processing plant had tested positive for COVID-19.

Last week, we highlighted how President Trump’s executive order was forcing meat processing workers back to unsafe jobs without proper health protections. Meanwhile, Senator Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Congress are in lockstep with the Trump administration behind an effort to give big companies new legal liability protections. McConnell identified protecting businesses from lawsuits as his top priority in coronavirus relief.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

What a great idea. If President Trump is a wartime president and has invoked the Defense Authorization Act, it’s time for him and his administration to pull a shift on the assembly line of the workers he is forcing to do work to protect our national food security.

Trump is so confident that the plants are safe that it would set a great example to have the President, Vice President, their entire cabinet, and the whole Trump family work a shift on the line ‘shoulder-to-shoulder.’ What better way to show solidarity with frontline essential workers than to ‘join the fun’ with them?

President Lincoln – a real wartime President – toured battlefields and hospitals, sometimes at great risk to his personal safety and Eleanor Roosevelt famously encouraged wartime production workers in person. But it’s unlikely that Trump would risk his own skin or kin or those of his cabinet to walk a mile in Gary Harris’ shoes.

Unfortunately, as Mitch McConnell and others are making clear, pushing for new corporate legal liability protections is more important to Republicans as a strategy to fight Covid-19 than saving lives. The profits and priorities of corporations like Tyson Foods matter more to the President and his party than the health and safety of the frontline workers they are pressing into service.