Minnesota Introduces Safety Bill for Meatpacking Workers

Minnesota Introduces Safety Bill for Meatpacking Workers

If the legislation is passed, meatpacking employers would be required to provide paid sick leave and PPE to their employees.

Minnesota lawmakers have introduced a bill that, if passed, will protect workers at meatpacking facilities from circumstances related to COVID-19, according to Insurance Journal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud, Minnesota. The proposed legislation would give workers at meat processing facilities paid leave that can be used when workers need to recover from injuries or illness. Under this bill, employers who fail to offer paid leave would be prosecuted.

The coronavirus pandemic served as motivation to push this new bill, which adds on to a piece of legislation passed in 2007 that “requires the plants to provide adequate safety equipment to employees and information about their rights as workers.” The pandemic presented more health risks for meatpacking workers as social distancing measures have not been enforced in many facilities. Workers in these facilities are also struggling to get vaccinated amid plant-wide coronavirus outbreaks.

“Everyday myself and my coworkers put our lives on the line when we go to work,” said Antonio Jimenez, an employee at a JBS pork plant. “I was here at the plant when the COVID outbreak happened—no one wants that to ever happen again.”

If passed, the bill would also require employers to provide free PPE to employees as well as breaks for proper disinfection.

About the Author

Nikki Johnson-Bolden is an Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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