As we join the call for workers’ rights to safe working conditions
January, 29, 2021
Media contact: Andrea Arenas
Spanish speakers available
Washington D.C.- Gainesville, GA., the center of our nation’s poultry industry, today mourns the loss of at least six workers. These workers, whose identities have not yet been disclosed, were part of a shift of 130 employees who were at the plant and exposed to liquid nitrogen.
LCLAA and Poder Latinx regret this tragic and horrific loss. We elevate and unite our voices with workers, demanding our newly elected Senate leaders pass legislation capable of ensuring the health and safety of all workers. We need laws that will guarantee that front-line workers are safe and secure among other critical issues that workers need.
Poultry plants rely on liquid nitrogen for their refrigeration systems. Yet this is a chemical that when leaked into the air, vaporizes and turns into an odorless gas capable of displacing oxygen. This situation can be deadly within enclosed spaces, as the gas pushes away breathable air.
The poultry industry can be a dangerous one, if and when security measures are not thoroughly implemented, since chemicals and heavy machinery are part of the process. However, workers at the Foundation Food Group need to be guaranteed they will be able to return home to their loved ones once their shift ends. That did not happen today. As a result, six working families mourn a terrible loss, and might face economic uncertainty.
Workers at the Foundation Food Group, as well as those who work in other poultry processing plants, need to know that they can address their grievances and push for change without fear of retaliation. OSHA has the responsibility to undertake a full and impartial investigation now! By doing so they take the steps needed to minimize the possibility of catastrophic events that may result in the loss of life of working families.
These women and men are essential workers, who for the past year have been working to keep food on our nation’s table, amid a devastating pandemic. It is infuriating to learn that they went to work this morning and will not come back home to their families, said Yanira Merino, LCLAA National President. OSHA’s mission is to protect the safety and health of America’s workers and our expectation is that they follow through and provide guidance that will be needed in the future.
“When families leave to work, there is an expectation that they will return safely to their homes at the end of the day,” said Jose Vargas, Executive Director of LCLAA. “Anything short of that is unacceptable. Workers’ health and safety must be paramount and we urge OSHA to ensure that this is the case for all workers.”
“Our hearts go out to the essential workers who were victims of the horrible incident at the Foundation Food Group’s poultry processing plant in Gainesville yesterday. Day in and day out we depend on these workers to get food to our tables. In their time of such unspeakable tragedy, no worker should have to worry about quality health care or paid time off. We demand that their employers ensure the physical and mental health needs of each and every one of the survivors and that they receive paid leave as they and their families face this catastrophe.”
-.Susi Duran, Georgia State Director
You can provide immediate support to the victims and their families by clicking and donating:
### The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers and their families. LCLAA was born in 1972 out of the need to educate, organize and mobilize Latinos in the labor movement and has expanded its influence to organize Latinos in an effort to impact workers' rights and their influence in the political process. LCLAA represents the interest of more than 2 million Latino workers in the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), The Change to Win Federation, Independent Unions and all its membership. Visit LCLAA on the web at www.lclaa.org, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ### About Poder Latinx: Our mission is to build a political wave where the Latinx community plays a key role in the transformation of our country, where immigrants, Latinx and other people of color are decision-makers of our political process.