Our VoiceHealth & Environment

Improve working conditions for those who bring you your turkey


Rev. David L. Ostendorf • Nov 25, 2010

Originally published by The Progressive Media Project on November 22, 2010.

Before you carve into your Thanksgiving turkey, please pause to reflect on the workers who brought the holiday feast to your table.

After twenty-one years of grueling, hard labor at the same Midwest turkey processing plant, one worker — let’s call him Alberto — is today earning $12.45 an hour.

He handles as many as thirty turkeys a minute as they speed along the processing line. Every shift, he makes some 20,000 cutting motions.

Alberto and thousands of other poultry workers — mostly immigrants, refugees and workers of color — feed the nation this Thanksgiving — and every day of the year.

Two-thirds of the meatpacking and poultry-processing workforce in the United States is Latino and black.

Thousands of Somalis who fled their war-torn African homeland help put forty-five million turkeys on Thanksgiving tables.

In the fields and orchards, Latinos comprise 77 percent of the labor force that adds vegetables and fruit to the holiday spread.

Got milk?

Mostly immigrant workers tend the dairy farms.

Workers up and down the food chain deserve better pay and benefits — and safer conditions.

Continue reading at The Progressive Media Project.

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