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“How Trump Gutted OSHA and Workplace Safety Rules”

“Trump’s attack on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has left workers vulnerable to Covid-19.”

“The coronavirus had already begun tearing through the JBS Foods beef processing plant in Greeley, Colorado, when Kim Cordova wrote to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in late March. Cordova, the president of UFCW Local 7, asked the federal agency to send inspectors to that plant, where 3,000 members of the union work, as well as to five other businesses where members of the local work. Many of the JBS workers, who cut, process, and package the meat from the newly slaughtered animals, had begun to fall sick with Covid-19. Yet JBS hadn’t provided the workers with masks and in some cases had advised specifically against wearing them, according to Cordova. The workers didn’t have enough room to distance themselves from their co-workers in the cafeteria, the locker rooms, or elsewhere around the plant. Although Cordova had been in direct communication with the management at JBS about the health hazards at the plant, the largest of its kind in the country, talks had recently hit a wall.

A few days later, Cordova received a call from OSHA letting her know that help was not on the way. “He said they didn’t have the staff and they weren’t doing any on-site visits. They just didn’t have any direction,” she recalled. “And I told them, people are going to die in this facility.”

Sharon Lerner reports for The Intercept October 20 2020.