Oxfam: Poultry Plant Workers Face Deplorable Conditions

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A report released by Oxfam America on Wednesday alleges disturbing and dangerous conditions among employees at U.S. poultry processing plants, including a lack of adequate bathroom breaks.

The report is based on research done by Oxfam and partners at poultry plants around the country over the last three years. According to Oxfam, while the poultry industry is enjoying record profits, life as an employee is dangerous and grim. The report cites low wages, elevated rates of injury and illness, and a lack of voice within the workplace.

"Routinely, poultry workers say, they are denied breaks to use the bathroom. Supervisors mock their needs and ignore their requests; they threaten punishment or firing. Workers wait inordinately long times...then race to accomplish the task within a certain timeframe or risk discipline," the report reads. It also says that workers "urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security."

The bathroom restrictions particularly impact women, who also have to deal with biological realities like "menstruation, pregnancy and higher vulnerability to infections" all while struggling to "maintain their dignity and privacy when requesting breaks," Oxfam says.

"Supervisors deny requests to use the bathroom because they are under pressure to maintain the speed of the processing line, and to keep up production," the report says.

One worker told Oxfam that a supervisor made fun of workers at his plant, saying they "eat too much so [they] go to the bathroom a lot." One poultry company in Mississippi even had female workers who alleged that a supervisor charged them money to use the bathroom.

"I've seen people pee on the line," one worker in Arkansas said. "And sometimes, when they're running to get to the bathroom, women pee on themselves." He also talked about an instance where he saw a man running towards the bathroom both urinate and defecate on himself. That man was sent home by a supervisor, he said.

According to the report, at least two workers said either they or their coworkers regularly wear diapers to work. One explained the reasoning, saying "because [she] can't go to the bathroom when she needs to because they don't let her."

Among the recommendations Oxfam made to companies such as Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's, Perdue and Sanderson Farms were the development of "specific commitments that workers have access to bathroom breaks whenever they are needed," ensuring that such policies are made public, and the creation of a system to allow workers to file grievances about being denied bathroom breaks, without fear of retribution.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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