Fear And Closeness On Food’s Front Line: A Poultry Worker Speaks Out On The Cost Of Being Essential

For 18 years, Michael Foster has worked at the same chicken plant in Alabama, but now when he walks in, he encounters workers who are scared like never before. Many are working elbow-to-elbow on lines where anxiety increases with every passing sneeze and cough. Temperature checks at the plant, owned by Wayne Farms, started in April. Masks only started being made available this week.

Nobody is recognizing or appreciating us for what we're doing. My company could have afforded to at least give every worker they have a box of chicken,” Foster, 40, told Forbes during a recent interview over Zoom. “I do not have chicken in my freezer.”

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