RWDSU Members Defeat Poultry Line Speed Increase

RWDSU Members in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia Worked Tirelessly to Ensure their Health and Safety Came First, Signing Thousands of Postcards and Delivering Them in Person to the USDA to Defeat a Life-Threatening Request by the National Chicken Council


Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) congratulated the Mid-South Council and the Southeast Council of the RWDSU on their work in defeating a proposal by the National Chicken Council (NCC) to the USDA that would have put poultry workers at increased risk for injury and potentially endanger the general public from food inspection failures. Members of the two councils who work throughout the southern United States in large poultry plants leafletted their workplaces, called fellow members, and went door-to-door to get postcards signed against the egregious proposal by the NCC. Members of the Mid-South Council attempted to deliver the petitions in person to the USDA in December, but we’re denied in person delivery, watched what happened:


“I am proud of the work of the Mid-South Council and the Southeast Council of the RWDSU. Their efforts brought a real challenge to the National Chicken Council, and under a presidential administration that has shown no understanding of the issues working people face – and they won,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Many of RWDSU’s 25,000 members across the south went door-to-door, made phone calls, and spoke directly with fellow members at worksites to sign the postcards. I am proud of how effective the councils of the RWDSU were in the face of grave odds, they defeated a proposal that would have put not just their own lives at risk, but the lives of every American that eats chicken. Individual poultry plants will now have the opportunity to petition the USDA for speed increases and I know our members will continue to work tirelessly to defeat any proposal that puts their health and safety below corporate greed.”


“If you’ve ever been to or worked in a poultry plant you know firsthand the dangers workers face every day, working shoulder to shoulder, wrist to wrist, the proposal to increase line speeds would have irreparably injured so many workers – today is a huge victory for our members and all poultry workers – we faced Goliath and won,” said John Whitaker, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).


“We represent 10,000 plus members that work in poultry plants throughout the south, but there are so many others without union representation, many of whom are immigrants and do not have documentation. The current presidential administration has forgotten working people, union and non-union, documented and undocumented, but today, we showed that when we stand for our values, and we stand for working people and we can and will be heard in Washington, D.C. I am proud of the work of our members to defeat this horrific proposal and we will continue to fight against any proposal that will increase the speeds,” said Randy Hadley, President of the Mid-South Council of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).


“Workers in the south are a force to be reckoned with. Today’s victory is no small measure of the power of RWDSU members. Increasing the line speeds would have hurt thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of poultry workers across the country – not to mention poultry consumers, our members stopped this proposal in it’s tracks. When we work together we can win together, we stood for our values, we stood for what is right and we won, not just for our members, but for all working people,” said Edgar Fields, President of the Southeast Council of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).