MARYLAND- Over a hundred organizations and businesses are teaming up to call on Governor Larry Hogan to enact mandated protections to make working conditions safer for those those in the poultry, seafood, and agriculture industries.
“We are seeing that the workers, these essential workers are working in these industries are incredibly at risk and have higher risk of infection,” Amy Liebman, Director of Environmental and Occupational Health at Migrant Clinicians Network, said.
The groups released a new video and a sign-on letter this week listing the changes they want to see made and their concerns, such as the lack of PPE, crowded transportation, and lack of testing. “Immediately we wanna see the removal of the minimum wage paid, sick leave exemption for this population of workers, we wanna ensure that workers who contract coronoavirus while on the job receive workers compensation while they are ill,” Bonnie Raindrop, Outreach Coordinator for Md. Smart on Pesticides Coalition, said.
We reached out to Governor Hogan’s Press Secretary who provided a statement that said that the state, the CDC, and local health departments have been working with in the industry to provide expanded testing and outreach, increased sanitation, social distancing efforts, installing plastic dividers between workstations, and additional employee screenings. They also said the state gave out face masks to the poultry facilities and that the Department of Human Services assembled take-home care kits that included essential items like face masks and cleaning supplies.
But Leibman said what they’ve done isn’t enough. “We all are in this together we shouldn’t sort of pick and choose what we’re doing we should make sure above and beyond that we are making sure that our workers are protected,” Leibman said. If you’d like to sign the sign-on letter, you can go to https://www.votervoice.net/MPN/campaigns/75502/respond or click the sign letter link in the video description https://youtu.be/oGJMK-a4LOY .