U.S. Poultry Workers Endure ‘Shocking’ Working Conditions

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Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Oxfam America has produced a report called “Human Lives On The Line—The High Cost Of Chicken,” detailing how big poultry companies abuse their workers to produce the 89 pounds of chicken per person that Americans eat every year.

Oliver Gottfried, Senior Advocacy and Collaborations Advisor at Oxfam America, describes one common practice that dehumanizes workers on poultry processing lines.

“The stories we heard were shocking: workers who reported having to wait an hour or more, they needed to use the restroom; being subjected to taunts and harassment and discrimination from supervisors when they did something as simple as asking to leave to go to the bathroom; workers deliberately reducing their intake of fluids so that they wouldn’t have to leave the line to go to the bathroom, and then the complications that would cause in terms of dehydration, and then in the most extreme circumstances workers being compelled to urinate or defecate on themselves on the line because they weren’t allowed to leave, or even wearing diapers on the line to cover for that.”

IAM in Five-Year NYC ‘Guild’ Deal with Uber

In a deal with IAM District 15, Uber drivers in New York City will be represented a new organization called the Independent Driver’s Guild. It’s not a union in the traditional sense, but it could help the 35,000 Uber drivers in New York City with some better benefits and protections on the job.

This guild won't have the power to bargain labor contracts for Uber drivers and the drivers will still be classified as independent contractors.

In fact, IAM has agreed for the five years this agreement is in effect not to try to unionize the drivers and not to wage any campaigns aimed at getting the drivers recognized as employees.

UC Berkeley Study: Low-Wage Manufacturers Cost U.S. Taxpayers $10.2 Billion a Year

It’s well documented that fast food workers are paid so little that many of them are forced to rely on public assistance programs. Now there’s evidence that manufacturing workers are in the same boat.

A recent study released by University of California, Berkley’s Center for Labor Research and Education says over a third of manufacturing workers in the U.S. earn so little they qualify for public assistance, costing taxpayers $10.2 billion a year.

More manufacturing workers these days are hired through temporary staffing agencies that take their cut, leaving workers paid a median wage of $10.88 an hour. Workers hired directly by manufacturers earn a median of $15.03, according to the UC Berkeley researchers.

The National Employment Law Project says manufacturing wages in the U.S. are in the lower half of wages in all jobs in the U.S.

When unions were stronger and before so many manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, manufacturing workers made significantly more than the U.S. average wage.