Advocates for Latino and Hispanic community release list of demands for meat packing plants

Tyson Foods has added dividers between workers on the floor of their Lexington meat packing plant. (Credit: Tyson Foods)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A group of advocates for the Latino and Hispanic community released a list of demands they said the governor and meat packing plants need to take to further protect essential workers.

The group, which is made up of members of several organizations, and have united to form what they call Las Voces, since the voices of those in the Latino and Hispanic community often go unheard.

Especially now, when the coronavirus pandemic is hitting them particularly hard.

"Why are we pitting the respect and value for life against the business community, why do workers have to choose between going to work in a risky work environment or paying their bills," Marty Ramirez with Las Voces said.

The six demands are:
1. Require a minimum of six feet distance between workers on the line to avoid contact or inhaling airborne droplets containing infectious agents;
2. Require notification of local, state and federal health officials and of coworkers of positive COVID-19 employees;
3. Expand and prioritize diagnostic testing to all workers who are symptomatic and those with whom they have had contact;
4. Provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training in the appropriate languages on its correct use to all employees.
5. Listen to the Latino community and advocate for the workers, giving them a platform to speak without fear and retaliation; and
6. Focus on mental and general health needs and safety.

Speakers said not only should meat packing companies implement these measures, Governor Pete Ricketts should require them.

They also said Ricketts should sit down with meat packing workers and let them know how important they are and get a better understanding of what they're going through.

"Meat packing workers are forced to be considered as essential workers but unfortunately our meat packing workers are being used as disposable workers and are not being adequately protected on their daily jobs," Yolanda Nuncio, Grand Island native said.

Nuncio called for the temporary closure of plants across the state. She said they should close to sanitize and give workers the chance to get healthy.

Las Voces is holding a caravan vigil Sunday on the south side of the State Capitol building in support of meatpacking workers and vulnerable people around the state at 2:15 p.m. They ask that attendees stay in their cars for the duration of the event.