For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815 Office or 402-580-8815 Cell www.nebraskafarmersunion.org
July 28, 2020 Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) is asking the Nebraska Legislature, especially those with meatpacking plants, poultry processing plants, or meat processing facilities in their Legislative District to work with Senator Tony Vargas as he asks the Legislature to suspend the rules to allow him to introduce a bill yet this session that is intended to follow through on the promise made to provide Nebraska meatpacking and poultry processing plant workers with a safe workplace and critical sick leave benefits.
Nebraska is the nation’s leading red meat producing and processing state. The industry is a massive economic engine that is spread across the state. NeFU counts at least 18 Senators or over a third of the legislative body who have meatpacking facilities in their Districts including Senator Vargas. Those Senators with meatpacking or meat processing plants in their Legislative District includes Senators Albrecht, Bostelman, Brandt, Geist, Halloran, La Grone, Lathrop, Lowe, McCollister, McDonnell, Moser, Quick, Scheer, Slama, Walz, Williams, and Wishart. “We hope all the Senators with meatpacking, poultry processing, and meat processing facilities in their Legislative Districts can work together to make sure the workplace modifications, safety equipment, process changes, and sick leave benefits are in place as they should be,” said NeFU President John Hansen.
Hansen said “Everyone in Nebraska knows that our meatpacking workers, poultry processing workers, and meat processing workers have been hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since not all the plants are reporting the number of workers who have tested positive or have died, it is not known exactly how many workers have been impacted or lost. Our state should not tolerate that lack of fundamental transparency. The workers, their families, and communities are entitled to that basic information.”
Nebraska Farmers Union was a co-sponsor of the rally at the Capitol Tuesday along with many other organizations asking the Legislature to make time to address meatpacking worker workplace safety and medical benefits. NeFU Secretary Graham Christensen was one of the speakers who addressed the rally. He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted meatpacking communities, and that meatpacking workers deserved to be treated fairly and safely. Christensen said the recent meatpacking crisis exposed a rigid food system that does not work for food producers or food consumers.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.