Poultry Industry Workers Protest Wages, Discriminatory Practices

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. — On the heels of Tyson’s annual shareholders meeting, workers protested wages and the quality of life in the poultry industry.

Friday, Tyson Foods announced it is raising its financial forecasts for 2016.  The company credits record profits on growing consumer spending, increased meat supplies and low prices for animal feed. 

Now, some people working in the poultry processing industry in Arkansas are drawing attention to wages and working conditions.

“Sexual harassment, racist,” said Yazmin Acosta, a former poultry industry worker describing things that happened while working in the poultry industry.

She said she worked at Tyson and Southeast Poultry and describes the work environments  as unbearable.

“Even when you go to the restroom, they’re like hey you have to move it,” she said managers would yell as she went to the restroom.

After four years, she had seen enough.

“I think all the plants have the same problem. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people,” said Acosta.

According to a report from the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center, out of 500 poultry industry workers surveyed 51% reported experiencing discrimination.

Amber Moulton, a researcher with the Unitarian Universalist Service said “it (the report) also reveals there are dire changes that need to be made to respect the rights and dignity of  workers who work in these poultry processing plants.”

The report outlines six changes they’d like to see take effect industry wide, like guaranteeing paid sick days for all workers, but not everyone agrees.

“We believe in fair compensation, a safe and healthy work place, and in making certain that our team members have a voice at work,” said Hector Gonzalez, VP HR Operations with Tyson.

David Sanders, a Tyson Foods Poultry Plant Team Member said “I don’t think there’s any  other culture as far as company wise better than Tyson right now.”

For those who disagree with the company’s practices, Acosta urges them to speak up.

“They have to say it and don’t get quiet,” she said.
 

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