*This blog is written by an anonymous member of GALEO.
Hall County is known as the poultry capital of the state. Unfortunately, to this day the poultry industry in Hall County cares more about profits than its employees.
During the start of the pandemic, businesses followed CDC regulations during the state lockdown. Poultry plants, on the other hand, took it upon themselves to increase production while putting their employees at a serious risk.
On April 28, 2020, Hall County emerged as north Georgia’s COVID-19 hot spot. During that time, Hall confirmed 1,132 COVID-19 cases. Health officials stated that at least some of those patients came from the area’s chicken processing plants.
11Alive interviewed Vanesa Sarazua with the Gainesville-based Hispanic Alliance of Georgia, representing a community that drives much of the labor in chicken plants. Ms. Sarazua said in her interview “We didn’t have masks. Workers didn’t have masks. We didn’t have the luxury of staying home during this COVID crisis but had to hit the road running to go to work and continue to work throughout the crisis,” she said.
My mother is one of those workers. When the pandemic started, she was scared to go to work but knew she could not take time off because bills needed to get paid. I went and stocked up on cleaning supplies. I made sure she had masks because her job did not provide PPE and still doesn’t. To this day, the plant where she works expects every employee to buy their own PPE as well as to report to work every day.
The disbelief and anger I felt and still do feel seeing my mother risk her health because the company’s owner values profits more than the health of his employees, including that of my mother’s, is astronomical. My mother could realistically end up in the hospital due to the health measures that are not being taken. My family can end up in the hospital if she unknowingly brings back home the virus.
What will it take for these poultry plants to take this pandemic seriously? To take the health of its workers seriously? They can easily provide masks, hand sanitizers, soaps, etc. but choose every day not too. My local convenience store has FREE masks for customers. I see no argument as to why poultry plant workers must provide their own PPE! It is a shame how these companies handled this. It’s a blessing in disguise because now we see that these companies do not care about their employees one bit.
Author: Doug Richards Published: 5:58 PM EDT May 15, 2020
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NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at email@example.com.