(en)Action Alert

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Tue, 1 Jul 1997 20:32:19 pst

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Labor Alerts/Labor News a service of Campaign for Labor Rights 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003 clr@igc.apc.org (541) 344-5410 http://www.compugraph.com/clr

Action Alert: Pressure Needed in Support of Poultry Industry Investigation

Summary: Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman has been receiving political pressure not to follow through with the Department of Labor's promises to investigate the poultry industry. The poultry workers' justice project of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice is asking for letters urging Herman to fulfill the promises made by the Labor Department last year.

Background: The poultry workers' justice project is a campaign of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (NICWJ) focused on improving working conditions, worker rights, and worker pay for employees of poultry plants. The Code of Ethics released by the NICWJ on January 23 states that: "Poultry companies should treat workers with respect, pay a living wage, provide fair benefits, ensure safety on the job, guarantee workers' right to organize without fear and negotiate in good faith with workers' elected representatives. Companies that recruit immigrant workers should assist those immigrants with their transition into a new community and country."

The principle campaign focus of the NICWJ is the workers' struggle at the Case Farms poultry processing plants in Morgantown, North Carolina, and Winesburg, Ohio. Most of the workers in the Morgantown plant are from Guatemala. In July of 1995, Morgantown workers voted to be represented by the Laborers International Union of North America, but Case Farms has been unwilling to cooperate and the workers do not yet have a contract.

The Department of Labor under Secretary Robert Reich agreed in November to investigate the poultry industry this spring, but the Department is currently being pressured to hold off on its investigation. This could further delay agreement on a contract at the Morgantown, Case Farms plant. Nine Southern Senators sent a joint letter to Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor for the DOL, urging her to not proceed with the promised investigation.

In an effort to apply positive pressure and encourage the investigation of the poultry industry, Kim Bobo, director of NICWJ, is asking concerned individuals to write letters to Alexis Herman. The letters should address the need for worker rights and sanitary conditions in the poultry plants and urge Herman to immediately follow through with the Department of Labor's promise to investigate the poultry industry.

Letters can be sent to:

Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor

Department of Labor 200 Constitution Ave. NW Washington, DC 20212

[Case Farms workers held a rally on July 12 in Morgantown, NC, to celebrate two years of organizing and to emphasize the continuing need to negotiate a contract. Speakers at the rally will be Baldemar Velasquez, Linda Chavez, and Bishop Jess DeWitt.]

For more information about the NICWJ, their poultry workers' justice project, and the Case Farms campaign, please contact the NICWJ at 1607 W. Howard, Suite 218, Chicago, IL 60626; phone: (773) 381-3345; or fax: (773) 381-2832.

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