December 14, 2005
WASHINGTON—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—the nation’s largest poultry workers’ union—applauds efforts by House Democrats to protect front line poultry workers in the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu. This crucial legislation which addresses the needs to combat Avian Flu also contains language to convene a meeting of experts, representatives of the poultry industry, and representatives of poultry workers to evaluate the risk to poultry workers, the likelihood of transmission, and necessary measures to protect poultry workers from exposure.
The nation’s 200,000 poultry workers produce 500 million pounds of chicken every week. In the event of an outbreak of Avian Flu, we must have a plan to protect these workers—the chicken catchers and those that slaughter, process, and package the millions of chickens and turkeys that Americans eat each year.
To date, the Bush Administration has failed to include front line poultry workers in the discussion of the Avian Flu pandemic.
“Workers in America’s poultry industry would be the first to notice sick birds, the first to risk exposure to the deadly virus, and the first to sound the alarm. That’s like making poultry workers canaries in a mine—leaving them to contract the disease, suffer, and perhaps die as a warning of the coming pandemic,” said UFCW President Joe Hansen.