January 18, 2008
(Washington, DC) – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is deeply concerned that the state of Indiana is not forthcoming with accurate information about the location of the worksite in which workers have been diagnosed with a rare neurological illness.
According to local news reports, the Indiana Department of Health is refusing to identify the name or location of the facility citing privacy concerns. This is in stark contrast to the actions of state health officials, UFCW representatives and company officials in Minnesota where the work-related disease was first discovered.
It appears that only three meatpacking plants in the United States use an air-compression system to harvest brains from pork — QPP in Austin, Minnesota, Hormel in Fremont, Nebraska and Indiana Packers in Delphi, Indiana. Investigators from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have identified Indiana Packers as the site of the new cases of yet unnamed the inflammatory neurological condition.
UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning said, “One can assume that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and his state government doesn’t care about regular working people that would hide information that might protect workers from neurological illness.””
When workers became stricken with the mysterious neurological illness in Austin, QPP immediately contacted the UFCW about working together to identify any risks to workers in their plant. The UFCW knows that QPP and Hormel stopped that production line immediately upon discovery of the illness.
No cases have been found in Nebraska. In Minnesota, NIOSH has determined there are 12 confirmed cases among the workforce at QPP.