In April, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released a report calling out over a dozen American employers for failing to protect their workers. This “Special Coronavirus Edition” highlights ways these employers lobbied for reduced safety oversight or implemented a culture at odds with basic worker protections.
As the country seeks to reopen safely amid a pandemic, increased protections are essential for workers and customers. With the legal landscape over coronavirus currently in flux, the activity of these “Dirty Dozen” employers risk legal action.
Business lobbying for decreased worker protections
It should come as no surprise to middle and lower-class employees — increased protections for workers mean inflated costs for employers. Many organizations are lobbying members of Congress to push against these health and safety initiatives. The following groups made it on National COSH’s list of most damaging employers:
- Fieldale Farms: One of the largest independent poultry producers, Fieldale has a history of employee injury and death due to hazardous work conditions. Despite this systemic lack of concern, the Department of Agriculture granted the poultry giant a waiver to increase line production. Workers must work faster and fewer precautions, resulting in increased injury and illness. On March 23, 2020, workers staged a strike citing sanitation concerns.
- Trader Joe’s: Groceries are essential for America, yet the chain of stores fails to protect many of its employees, and therefore, customers. One Trader Joe’s employee died from COVID-19 in early April, prompting the closure of the store. Trader Joe’s also refuses to offer paid leave to employees without a confirmed diagnosis, which is difficult to secure with such limited testing. Trader Joe’s has spent considerable time during the pandemic defending its anti-union position.
- American Hospital Association (AHA): Medical professionals take a massive risk during a pandemic, treating sick and injured people every day. Protecting doctors and nurses against the worst of coronavirus is vital to the health of the nation. Surprisingly, the AHA opposes increasing protections for these vulnerable people. The organization aggressively lobbied Congress members to reduce the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections in the first coronavirus bill.
Other organizations on the “Dirty Dozen” list include Chipotle, Eulen America, Sea Watch International, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and more. Amazon and Tyson Foods received “dishonorable mentions” as well.