Packing plant workers get legislative hearing

'Having a hearing is critical'


Andrew Ozaki, KETV Omaha (NE) 

Jul 30, 2020


They've rallied outside the State Capitol for weeks, now meatpacking workers will get to share their coronavirus concerns with state lawmakers.


"We are human beings, essential workers, not robots and not disposable," said Smithfield Foods worker Geraldine Waller during a rally on Tuesday.


Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas tried to get lawmakers to suspend the rules and introduce a new bill calling for more protections for plant workers. When that attempt failed he attached an amendment to another one of his bills. Now, a public hearing is set for next Thursday.


"Having a hearing is critical to learning more about why 20% of our cases of COVID 19 in our state are meatpacking plant workers," Vargas said.


"That should be a red flag."


The hearing comes as Tyson Foods reveals its plans to randomly test thousands of its workers at 140 plants.


Four of those facilities are in Nebraska, including the state's biggest plant in Dakota City, which is State Sen. Joni Albrecht's district.


"A lot of things Sen. Vargas is asking for they are already doing," Albrecht said.


Vargas' amendment calls for plants to provide:


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