#Protect Food Workers

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Days before the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, we saw a crisis in the making: only 25% of food workers would have access to paid sick leave. None of us knew the magnitude of what we would face, but the HEAL community sprang into action.

Over the past few years of the pandemic HEAL members have grown to meet the moment. Our members have redistributed food in their communities, established pandemic relief funds, provided direct support to community members, and deepened relationships with each other.

In 2020, HEAL’s staff pivoted a substantial amount of our time to support members in the meatpacking sector, like Rural Community Workers Alliance, who were organizing walkouts, wildcat strikes, and other actions - and asking for help. They saw that working people on the frontlines were not receiving PPE, and that a few greedy corporate CEOs were ignoring CDC guidelines and penalizing workers for trying to take action to protect themselves.

In 2021 we continued to advance protections for people working on the frontlines of the food system through legal advocacy, storytelling, and direct action. 

This year during the Coronavirus pandemic, we mobilized to #ProtectFoodWorkers. Since the onset of the pandemic, HEAL members have invested in supporting the food and farm workers who are literally being forced to choose between their lives and their livelihoods. With the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Venceremos, Rural Community Workers Alliance, Warehouse Workers for Justice, ROC United, Farmworkers of Florida, Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, Public Justice, and others, we've made real movement!



Spearheaded call-ins resulting in Tyson receiving over a thousand calls and emails from consumers urging them to improve worker treatment.

In response to the exclusion of frontline food and farm workers from OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard we coordinated with members to organize an in-person action and related social media campaign that had a combined reach of over 10,000 individuals across our social media platforms. We provided resources to support protected working people through the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, including tweeting at OSHA, the DOL and decision makers.

We hosted two webinars in support of meatpacking workers and supported lobbying efforts. With our members at the Farmworker Association of Florida, we hosted a webinar  on the impacts of heat stress, COVID-19, and food apartheid on the Florida farm worker community.

Organized a week of action against Tyson Foods and led a coalition of 40 organizations through actions.

Drove the delivery of a Tyson Foods shareholder letter signed by 122 organizations.

Filed a Civil Rights complaint with the USDA in defense of working peoples’ lives.

Our joint organizing work to protect people working in the meatpacking industry during the pandemic was recognized by Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Cory Booker (NJ), and was covered by major media outlets including the Bloomberg, CBS, Counter, Eater, FOX, Forbes, Grist, NBC, and the Washington Post. 

Need more resources? Learn about how the current struggle of meatpacking workers intersects with the history or race and immigration in our food system.

Stay tuned for more ways to support food system workers during the pandemic.

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