Letters to the Editor

A disaster at Iowa's packing plants

Gov. Kim Reynolds has put Iowa on the map, and not in a good way. Sioux City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls are now on the list of communities in America with exploding cases of COVID-19. Both communities are now fighting to protect meatpacking workers and the community because company efforts to protect their workers have failed.

The alarms started going off at Iowa’s meatpacking plant in Tama and Columbus Junction in late March. Packing plants in those communities closed on April 6 due to rampant worker sickness from the deadly virus. Now, after repeated complaints, state OSHA inspectors were finally forced to visit Tyson’s plant in Waterloo. Sadly, however, they still have not conducted a single in-person inspection of any other Iowa plants to make sure that workers have protective equipment and are practicing effective infectious disease control.

Instead, Gov. Reynolds has repeatedly praised company executives for their efforts. trust packing plant CEOs without independently verifying what they were doing is now causing sickness, death and supply chain calamity.

Her ideologically motivated decision to block state inspectors from visiting and helping the plants has thrown Iowa livestock farmers into financial and management turmoil.

Now the president says all packing plants must remain open. This is a disaster. Forcing Iowa workers to work in unsafe conditions without state enforceable protections is cruel and will make all Iowans unsafe while further delaying our economic recovery.

Iowans deserve better.

State Sen. Joe Bolkcom

Iowa City

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