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Workers’ Rights Groups Join Lawsuit Challenging Inhumane Slaughter of Birds

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  • christine@eastbayanimaladvocates.org
    Workers’ Rights Groups Join Lawsuit Challenging Inhumane Slaughter of Birds Groups Representing Poultry Workers Cite Slaughterhouse Heath and Safety Concerns
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2006
      Workers� Rights Groups Join Lawsuit Challenging Inhumane Slaughter of
      Birds

      Groups Representing Poultry Workers Cite Slaughterhouse Heath and Safety
      Concerns

      SAN FRANCISCO (March 9, 2006) �Today, the Equal Justice Center and
      Western North Carolina Workers� Center�two organizations dedicated to
      improving agricultural worker safety and rights�joined The Humane
      Society of the United States� lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department
      of Agriculture�s (USDA�s) exclusion of chickens, turkeys, and other
      birds killed for human consumption from the federal Humane Methods of
      Slaughter Act of 1958.

      The groups have joined the lawsuit because current poultry slaughter
      practices are not only inhumane, but also cause unhealthy and unsafe
      working conditions, raising the risk of worker injury in
      slaughterhouses.

      �Slaughterhouse workers must struggle to hang terrified birds upside
      down at incredible speeds. As a result, they suffer serious injuries
      such as lacerations, broken bones, repetitive motion injuries, and
      respiratory problems from inhaling dust, dirt, and feces,� explains
      Anita Grabowski, Coordinator of EJC�s Poultry Worker Project. �These
      incredibly abusive and undignified workplace practices could be
      eliminated if more humane slaughter methods were adopted.�

      Last fall, the USDA issued a public notice informing poultry slaughter
      facilities that they need not comply with the federal Humane Methods of
      Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be �rendered insensible to
      pain� before being processed for slaughter. 7 U.S.C. � 1902. This
      policy allows processors to slaughter more than 9 billion birds each
      year using such inhumane and dangerous methods as shackling them upside
      down, electrically stunning them into paralysis, and sometimes even
      drowning them in tanks of scalding water�all while they are fully
      conscious.

      As a result of inhumane slaughter practices, more than 200,000 employees
      nationwide are endangered in filthy, bloody, and dark working
      conditions. If the USDA required facilities to humanely slaughter
      birds, the animals would be stunned and immobilized before the workers
      processed them under regular lighting conditions, decreasing
      contamination, injuries, and stress. One plant in Nebraska humanely
      slaughtering poultry has seen turnover among hangers drop by at least
      75 percent since the new system was installed.

      �Current slaughter methods are inherently dangerous and take a
      devastating emotional toll on the workers who must witness and
      participate in these cruelties,� says Francisco Risso, director of the
      Western North Carolina Workers� Center. �The USDA�s refusal to apply
      the federal humane slaughter law to poultry significantly and
      negatively impacts the day-to-day lives of thousands of workers who are
      doing some of the most difficult and thankless work in our society.�

      A copy of the amended complaint, which also includes East Bay Animal
      Advocates and several individuals as co-plaintiffs, is available upon
      request by calling 301-721-6446.

      Equal Justice Center is a Southern employment justice and civil rights
      organization which provides the critical support and infrastructure
      that enables low-income working people to organize and achieve fair
      treatment in the workplace, in the justice system, and in the larger
      civil society. EJC�s Poultry Worker Project is a regional initiative
      across the South which builds the capacity of poultry workers to
      improve their working conditions, to organize to stop exploitation, and
      to play a direct role in ensuring that poultry companies maintain
      responsible relationships with their employees and with the communities
      in which they are located. On the web at www.equaljusticecenter.org.

      Western North Carolina Workers� Center is a non-profit organization
      based in Morganton, North Carolina, that works to improve the wages,
      benefits, and working conditions of low-wage workers in the western
      part of the state.

      The Humane Society of the United States is the nation�s largest animal
      protection organization with 9.5 million members and constituents. The
      HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in
      companion animals and equine protection, disaster preparedness and
      response, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research and farm
      animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education,
      investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy, and field work. The
      non-profit organization is based in Washington and has field
      representatives and offices across the country. On the web at hsus.org.


      Christine Morrissey
      East Bay Animal Advocates
      P.O. Box 1406
      Martinez, CA 94553
      (925) 487-4419
      info@...
      http://www.eastbayanimaladvocates.org
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