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Pressure Perdue to improve conditions for poultry workers

By Oxfam
Poultry workers process more than eight billion chickens every year, a job that requires standing for hours on end while repeating the same motion up to 20,000 times per shift. Photo: John D. Simmons / The Charlotte Observer

Perdue: Don’t chicken out. It’s time to change.

Oxfam’s poultry campaign, launched in 2015, targets the top four US poultry companies: Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms. Tyson Foods, the largest poultry company in the US, recently announced new and expanded commitments to improve conditions for its poultry workforce. These commitments are thanks to the work Oxfam and a broad coalition of organizations have done to expose the harsh realities inside poultry plants in the US, applying public pressure on the industry to set new workplace standards.

Now Perdue must step up to the plate and take similar steps to improve working conditions.

Perdue is the third largest poultry producer in the US. In interviews, Perdue workers all report the same problems that plague workers in poultry processing across the country: low wages, elevated rates of injury and illness, denial of bathroom breaks, and lack of worker voice that leads to a climate of fear.

Wages:                                      

  • Perdue workers report wages of $11-$12 an hour, even after several years at the plant. 
  • Perdue workers at plants in Maryland and Delaware report having to pay for their own boots, gloves, aprons, and goggles.

Health and safety:

  • Anna, who works at a Perdue plant, notes, “If you’re injured, they will help you, yes. But then they will get rid of you.”
  • In 2011, a Perdue plant in Virginia was found to have committed 12 safety violations, including six that OSHA classified as “serious,” including improperly securing equipment and hazardous chemicals.

Workers’ voice:

  • Workers report that they are often denied bathroom breaks (though some workers report this has gotten better since the Oxfam report in 2016). 
  • Workers say they have routinely felt disrespected when trying to report their injuries to in-plant medical staff.

Perdue: It’s past time to improve conditions for your workers.

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