Denver City Council on Monday night will read a proclamation calling for more protections for workers at Colorado’s meat-packing industry, which has been ordered to remain in operation under the U.S. Defense Production Act.
The council's call for action comes three days after a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named Colorado as the leading state with the most coronavirus-related deaths among meat processing plants.
At least seven meat plant employees have died in Colorado, six of whom were employed at the JBS plant in Greeley, according to CPR News. There have been at least 245 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the meat-packing facility.
“It is in the certain and vital interests of Denver, the state of Colorado and the nation that the workers in this essential industry be protected to the extent necessary to safeguard their health and well-being,” the proclamation reads.
Denver’s legislative arm is calling for the state’s meat processors to “fully implement” guidance from the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and provide employees with personal protective equipment, including face shields and N95 respirators, for each shift.
The proclamation, sponsored by Councilman Kevin Flynn, also states that plant officials should implement additional safety measures, including safety training in languages their employees understand, extra time for hand washing, regular COVID-19 testing for front-line workers and management, paid time off for workers who test positive for COVID-19 and need to quarantine, and “protection from retaliation for workers who feel ill, remain home in quarantine or who report symptoms, or who report suspected violations of CDC and OSHA guidelines.”
The call for action, once approved, will be communicated to representatives of JBS USA Holdings, Cargill Inc., and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7.