‘Workers are putting their lives at risk for corporate bottom lines. We want them to know they can report illegal or dangerous conditions anonymously and we will take appropriate action.’
Joaquin Phoenix has backed a whistleblower campaign launched by animal-rights group Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for meat industry workers and animal welfare.
The animal advocacy group is offering an online tip portal as part of the “Report Animal Ag” campaign to help meat workers report any work-related violations including worker safety concerns, animal cruelty and illegal animal disposal anonymously.
ALDF has also installed billboards in English and Spanish near slaughterhouses in Greeley, CO; Toledo, Perry, and Waterloo, IA; Sioux Falls, SD; Green Bay, WI; Los Angeles, CA; and Springdale, AR. directing meat workers to use the tip line without the fear of getting identified.
According to Phoenix, “Whistleblowers are instrumental in helping animal protection organizations identify, investigate, document, and expose cruelty.
“ReportAnimalAg.com provides a safe space for employees to confidentially, and with anonymity, voice their concerns.”
Corona impact on factory farming
The coronavirus pandemic has rampaged through the factory farming industry and the unsafe, unhygienic, deplorable working conditions have only led to thousands of workers contracting the virus.
According to updated data from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, as of July 7, there have been at least 32,700 positive COVID-18 cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 362 plants in 38 states, and at least 126 reported worker deaths in at least 43 plants in 24 states.
While approximately 20 slaughterhouses including Tyson, Smithfield, and JBS temporarily shut their operations in April, which saw the biggest spike in COVID-19 infections, it quickly led to disruptions to the meat supply chain prompting meat giant Tyson to run full-page newspaper ads along with a statement on its website warning of impending food shortages if meat and poultry plants were not restored.
Meanwhile, farmers trying to cope with “unused stock” began mass culling chickens and pigs based on “depopulation” recommendations offered by industry associations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which included foam suffocation, blunt force trauma, and ventilation shutdown where all fans and vents were shut suffocating the animals stuck in the airless and hot barns.
For damage control, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 ordering meat processing plants to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in further jeopardizing worker safety.
Designed to exploit
A recent undercover investigation by ALDF exposed animal and human exploitation at a Tysonfoods slaughter plant in Texas, blowing the cover on a system that has been systematically designed to exploit humans and animals.
Warning: Disturbing content- viewer discretion advised.
“The animal agriculture industry doesn’t want the public to see operations when everything is ‘business as usual,’ much less conditions during a pandemic,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said.
“Workers are putting their lives at risk for corporate bottom lines. We want them to know they can report illegal or dangerous conditions anonymously and we will take appropriate action.”
ADLF is therefore urging more whistleblowers to come forward and register safety violations and cruelty instances through the online tip portal.
The campaign is working in the right direction, Phoenix said that the platform has begun to gather information on varied instances of cruelties and negligence,
“Despite the animal agribusiness industry’s flagrant disregard for worker safety as COVID-19 ravages slaughterhouses, a surge of whistleblowers — under the constant threat of employer retaliation — are coming forward with information about the mass killing of animals and disposal practices that have severe environmental implications,” he said.
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