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UFW Wins Injunction Forcing Foster Farms to Protect Workers From COVID

Believed to be first injunction against a meatpacker for covid safety issues nationwide

Today, the Superior Court of California in Merced County granted the United Farm Workers’ (UFW) request for an injunction to force Foster Farms in Livingston, California to comply with basic COVID safety regulations. The preliminary injunction requires Foster Farms to maintain numerous safety guidelines to protect workers from COVID as the case proceeds.

“Today’s clear win for workers is one step in our ongoing effort to protect workers from COVID. The workers who risk their lives to keep our food system functioning should never have to choose between going to work and staying healthy,” said Erika Navarrete of UFW. “While it shouldn’t require court action for a company like Foster Farms to fully protect its workers, we will do anything necessary to ensure that the lives of workers are actually treated as essential.”

“Foster Farms has used its political and market power to evade responsibility and today’s ruling is a key step in holding them accountable,” said Jamie Crooks of Elk Hills Research. “We proudly support UFW’s efforts to provide a safe workplace, even in the face of opposition from powerful agricultural conglomerates.”

In December, UFW and individual workers filed a lawsuit that resulted in a temporary restraining order requiring Foster Farms’ chicken processing plant in Livingston, California to follow COVID safety rules that the company is resisting an order to comply with despite nine workers at the plant dying and over four hundred becoming infected.

The lawsuit came after the Livingston Plant suffered a second outbreak in December, which is still ongoing according to Merced County Health Officials. Today, the court converted the existing temporary restraining order, imposed on December 23, to a preliminary injunction.

The lawsuit is United Farm Workers of America, et al. vs. Foster Poultry Farms (Merced County Superior Court, Case No. 20-CV-03605)

Press Contact: Elizabeth Strater, UFW: estrater@ufw.org

UFW Background: Begun in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and other early organizers, the United Farm Workers of America is the nation’s first enduring and largest farm workers union. The UFW continues organizing in major agricultural sectors and advocating for every farm worker towards a fairer food system. The UFW continues to actively champion legislative and regulatory improvements for farm workers covering issues such as worker protections, equal labor rights and immigration justice.

Elk Hills Background: Composed of lawyers and progressive political strategists, Elk Hills is a research and communications firm. Elk Hills identifies investment opportunities to address environmental crime, corruption, and anticompetitive behavior by corporations.