Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday, declaring US meat-packing plants essential businesses. Worker and food safety during the coronavirus pandemic is not even on Trump's list of concerns.
"We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork, and poultry products," Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union president Stuart Applebaum said.
Food & Water Watch's Tony Corbo said Trump's order "is even worse than his suggestion to use disinfectant to treat sick people. It's deadly and foolish and will cause catastrophic harm."
Bloomberg News:The five places in the U.S. with the highest daily growth rate of Covid-19 cases are all linked to meatpacking plants with active outbreaks.— Leah Douglas (@leahjdouglas) April 28, 2020
Requiring meat plants to stay open would likely not only put workers at risk, but surrounding communities, too.https://t.co/XwDdkVQBk8 pic.twitter.com/jowbvwoUqt
The order sets the stage for a showdown between America's meat giants, which have been pressing to reopen plants, and some local officials and labor unions who've called for closures in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading.Corbo:
The federal government should be stepping in to supplement food distribution networks to get our abundant frozen meat supplies to stores and food banks that need them. Instead, they're currying favor with giant corporations that have continuously put their bottom line above worker workers' health, food safety, and the vitality of our food supply chain.The Environmental Working Group's senior vice president for government affairs Scott Faber:
Sending workers back to meat-processing plants without proper protection is tantamount to a death sentence. Rather than escalating this danger with reckless fiats, President Trump should be ensuring food and farm workers have adequate PPE, plenty of space to work safely and free testing—not to mention paid sick leave and medical care if they do get sick.
***After full-page, woe-is-me weekend ads by Tyson Foods in *failing* NY Times & *fake news* WashPo, White House steps in to bail out one of Big Ag’s biggest players, Tyson Foods. Well played, sirs. Well played. https://t.co/4lIlZdX8e0— Alan Guebert (@AlanGuebert) April 28, 2020
About 50% of all US workers would bring home more money each week from slightly-increased unemployment insurance than they would from their regular full-time jobs.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that's an argument in favor of raising wages, not rolling back benefits. A Wall Street Journal analysis found that the average weekly unemployment payment for a laid-off worker will rise to around $978 once the temporary $600-per-week increase from the CARES Act kicks in.
"Maybe we should pay people more," said AOC. Michele Evermore, National Employment Law Project, agreed: "We should be asking ourselves why underpaid workers are being expected to labor for too little money in the first place."
The Trump administration promised there would be 27 million testing kits available by March 31. That date came and went and soon Trump was patting himself on the back when the US had passed two million tests.
Trump has lied dozens of times, continually claiming the US is the top-testing country in the world. With the third-highest population of any country on the planet, of course the US will have a lot of tests. Looking at tests per capita, which puts every country on the same level, the US currently ranks 42nd in the world. (Do you think Trump knows the word "percentage"?)
These 41 countries doing a more comprehensive testing job are: Faeroe Islands, Iceland, UAE, Falkland Islands, Bahrain, Malta, Gibraltar, San Marino, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lithuania, Estonia, Portugal, Israel, Isle of Man, Ireland, Qatar, Channel Islands, Norway, Italy, Brunei, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Latvia, Bermuda, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Russia, Greenland, Czechia, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, and Belgium.
Trump now says approximately six or seven million tests is plenty. A senior Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal that each state will be able to test at least 2% of their residents. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said: "If that's one-time, that doesn't do anything."
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
It doesn't set specific, numeric goals, offer a timeframe, identify ways to fix our broken supply chain, or offer any details whatsoever on expanding lab capacity or activating needed manufacturing capacity. Perhaps most pathetically, it attempts to shirk obviously federal responsibilities by assigning them solely to states instead. What we need is a clear, aggressive national strategic plan to dramatically ramp up testing and make sure tests are fast, free, and everywhere—and then we need the administration to implement it like people expect the president of the United States of America and his team to do.***
Donald Trump is utterly incapable of doing anything for anyone at any time for any reason without getting something in return for himself. When he goes to a friend's birthday party, he probably expects a gift in return.Trump says he wants blue states to give him "sanctuary-city adjustments" in exchange for federal financial relief pic.twitter.com/wY2edZifPQ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 28, 2020
It's too bad Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are cowards who will not even consider impeaching Trump again.
On Tuesday, Trump publicly stated his latest "quid pro quo". He has heard the "blue states" are requesting some financial relief from the federal government, what with the ongoing and worsening global pandemic that Trump was told about in mid-November 2019 and then sat on his ass for four full months.
Well, blue states, relief might be coming. But he'd like you to do him a favour, though.
This time, Trump's quid pro quo is domestic. He's extorting and bribing US states with millions of Americans lives in the balance. He is not a novice at this sociopathic behaviour. He was responsible for numerous deaths in Puerto Rico after withholding financial relief following a devastating hurricane (and the president of Puerto Rico did not seem to mind).
Someone want to ring up Susan Collins and ask her if she still thinks Trump learned his lesson from getting impeached?