When we are faced with the question of worker safety versus production of goods, historically, we have always been told we just have to sacrifice safety in order to ensure consumer goods are cheap and readily available. The truth is that this sets up a false choice of profits versus people. It is also no secret that throughout this nation’s history, some of the toughest and most dangerous jobs have been those that have historically been held by immigrants and refugees, and they often have been seen as expendable humans. They are not.
If we cannot make working conditions in meat packing plants, factories, or make other essential workplaces safe because we must choose profits over people, we have failed as Iowans. We can and must make working conditions better in these plants, and the best first step we can take is for Iowa to set OSHA pandemic safety standards that are enforceable. Iowa can seize the opportunity — this crisis has brought to light so many things that we as a society have turned a blind eye to before. Surely if we can lead the nation production and processing of animals, we can lead the nation in the safety of those who provide those goods up and down the food production chain.
Iowa Federation of Labor,