Warren Statement on OSHA Failing to Hold Smithfield Foods Accountable for Putting Thousands of Lives at Risk
"OSHA shrugged as workers died, then issued the lowest possible fine for endangering thousands of workers, sending a message that companies won't face real accountability" Smithfield CEO dismissed Warren's questions and concerns as "patently and demonstrably false" months ago "It's a federal crime to lie to Congress. If Smithfield's CEO was aware of OSHA's findings at the time, he should be held accountable"
Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.) released the following statement after reports that the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration fined Smithfield Foods for putting workers at
risk during the COVID-19 pandemic:
"Smithfield exploited the COVID crisis & put thousands of lives at risk. OSHA shrugged as workers died, then issued the lowest possible fine for endangering thousands of workers, sending a message that companies won't face real accountability," said Senator Warren. "This meager, months-too-late fine isn't enough and if OSHA were serious about doing its job, it would aggressively ramp up its investigation and enforcement activity to hold giant meatpackers accountable and issue an Emergency Temporary Standard with enforceable health and safety protections."
In July, Senators Warren and Booker released new information from their investigation into whether Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill and Smithfield Foods used the COVID-19 pandemic - and warning of meat shortages - as cover while they failed to protect workers, dramatically increased prices for American consumers while exporting record amounts of meat abroad, and successfully lobbied the President with a false pretext to sign an executive order that gave them cover to continue operating in an unsafe fashion.
The Smithfield CEO, in a public response to their concerns, stated that "The accusation that we have been unwilling to implement worker protections is patently and demonstrably false."
"It's a federal crime to lie to Congress," said Senator Warren. "If Smithfield's CEO was aware of OSHA's findings at the same time he called allegations of worker mistreatment demonstrably false, he should be held accountable."
Senator Warren has also introduced the Essential Workers Bill of Rights to ensure workers have the full suite of rights, protections, and benefits they need and deserve - including enforceable health and safety protections through an OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
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