NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Tony Vargas

Sen. Tony Vargas

District 7

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June 18, 2020

 

The Honorable Pete Ricketts

Governor of the State of Nebraska

State Capitol, Room 2316

Lincoln, NE 68509

 

Governor Ricketts,

 

Nebraskans working in meatpacking plants are among the hardest hit population groups in Nebraska and are the backbone of our economy and food security. Without significant protections, horrific outbreaks across the state threaten the lives and livelihood of many hardworking Nebraskans and their families. Earlier this month, 786 cases were reported at the Dakota City Tyson beef plant. We continue to see numbers of cases rising across the State.

Workers in the meat and poultry plants in Nebraska have faced difficult working conditions for many years. But COVID-19 represents a new and significant threat to the health and lives of workers in these plants. Right now workers need consistent, uniform, and enforceable protections that have yet to be put in place. Importantly, protecting worker health in the COVID-19 pandemic is also crucial to protecting community health.

Nebraska can, and should, do more to protect our critical food security infrastructure and the Nebraskans working hard every day to keep food on our tables. Preventative policies must be implemented to protect people from infection. The most important among these preventative policies would be (1) to institute six-foot distancing measures in plants that would increase physical space between workers on the line and throughout the facility, and (2) to institute transparency of information, contact tracing, and effective quarantine practices in these workplaces.

We ask that you specifically define and mandate a policy to protect Nebraskans working in meatpacking and poultry plants across the state. The current lack of policy and protections is endangering lives, including lives of family members of hard-working Nebraskans. We value our workforce in Nebraska and want to make sure everyone comes home from work healthy and alive.

 

Sincerely,

Senator Tony Vargas

Senator Kate Bolz

Senator Carol Blood

Senator Tom Brandt

Senator Michaela Cavanaugh

Senator Ernie Chambers

Senator Sue Crawford

Senator Wendy DeBoer

Senator Myron Dorn

Senator Matt Hansen

Senator Megan Hunt

Senator Sara Howard

Senator Rick Kolowski

Senator Steve Lathrop

Senator Brett Lindstrom

Senator John McCollister

Senator Mike McDonnell

Senator Adam Morfeld

Senator Patty Pansing Brooks

Senator Dan Quick

Senator Lynn Walz

Senator Justin Wayne

Senator Matt Williams

Senator Anna Wishart

Sen. Tony Vargas

District 7
Room #1000
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2721
Email: tvargas@leg.ne.gov
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