Omaha, Nebraska. Workers in meat processing plants and farms badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to receive grants of up to $600 per person under a new $700 million aid program announced by the United States Department of Agriculture. Had it. Tuesday.
Officials said the grant is intended to compensate workers for part of the expenses they incurred when they bought their own protective equipment or when they took leave without pay when the virus hit their industries and made them report for work. was asked to continue.
“While the rest of America was able to work from home, these brave men and women went to work every day to make sure we all had food to eat,” said Mark Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial. Workers (UFCW). ) “Meatpacking plants experienced some of the highest-in-life COVID-19 outbreaks at the start of the pandemic, and there were workers who deserved our thanks and support as well as our help.”
Early last year, the virus wreaked havoc at meatpacking plants, where workers cobbled together on production lines. The UFCW union, which represents about 80% of workers in the beef and pork industry, and 33% of workers in the country’s poultry sector, believes at least 132 workers at a meat-packing plant have been affected by COVID-19. died and at least 22,000 were infected.
During that peak of the pandemic, meat sector production fell to about 60% of its normal level as many large plants were forced to close temporarily to deep clean or improve their safety measures, Or because they had to work hard. due to labor shortage.
Worker grants will be provided by several non-profit groups applying to work with the government. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hoped to reduce administrative costs and the requirements to apply for money to help more workers.