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Poultry Workers in California Win Protections Against the Coronavirus

On December 23, 2020, a California state court issued a temporary restraining order mandating that Foster Poultry Farms immediately implement COVID-19 safety measures for their workers. The case, United Farm Workers of America et al. v. Foster Poultry Farms, is believed to be the first of its kind ordering a meatpacking company to implement coronavirus-related health and safety measures to protect its employees and represents a major win for meatpacking workers in the state.  

This case was brought by the United Farm Workers after two devastating coronavirus outbreaks in the Foster Poultry Farms 900 worker meatpacking plant. The first outbreak in April ended tragically- almost 400 workers were infected with the coronavirus and nine people died. The second outbreak, which began in early December, is ongoing. 

As a result of this case, Foster Poultry Farms must provide employees with face masks, conduct contact tracing for workers who test positive, inform all employees of testing requirements and outbreaks, and conduct safety trainings in English, Spanish, and Punjabi, reports northern California public radio station KQED. "The court recognized that being an essential worker does not mean that your employer may put your life and health at unnecessary risk," said Monique Alonso, lead attorney for the United Farm Workers.

CDM is proud that one of our board members, Laurie Burguess, is a lawyer for UFW in this important win for worker’s rights!