Here’s What You’re Missing When You Say, “I Don’t Care About Factory Farm Workers”

Earlier this month, NBC News reported that line workers at Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Pilgrim's Pride, and Sanderson Farms were denied breaks. In fact, they go so long without breaks that some employees are forced to wear diapers to avoid urinating on themselves.

After MFA shared the story on social media, many people expressed their lack of sympathy for the workers.

If you found yourself saying, “I have no sympathy for people working on factory farms,” here are a few things you might want to consider:

These Are Low-Status Jobs

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to choose where they work. No one grows up wanting to work in a slaughterhouse, and many people rely on these jobs to feed their families.

It would be wrong to assume that these workers could just get another job.

Many Farm Workers Are Undocumented

In fact, a 2008 immigration raid uncovered more than 300 undocumented workers and six underage employees, including a 15-year-old girl, working 10-hour shifts slaughtering chickens at House of Raeford, one of the largest poultry processors in the country.

Many workers live in fear of deportation or other consequences of reporting cruelty. This fear also makes it incredibly daunting to look for a different job.

Workers Are Sexually Abused

In 2013, PBS's Frontline aired a hard-hitting documentary exposing the sexual abuse, including frequent rape, of undocumented immigrant farm workers in the United States.

The rampant sex crimes against undocumented workers speak volumes to the cruel and violent culture that characterizes factory farms.

Workers Don’t Decide How Factory Farms Treat Animals

They do what they’re told. Extreme confinement, mutilations without painkillers, and the ruthless slaughter animals are subjected to is no fault of the low-level workers.

Be mad at the industry and the executives that actually have the power to change these horrific standard practices.

These Are Incredibly Dangerous Jobs

Workplace hazards include injuries, respiratory illness, and PTSD. Workers are also at risk for infection by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Earlier this year, it was revealed that on average, one Tyson employee a month is injured by equipment and loses a finger or limb.

Being Vegan Is About Compassion for All Animals, Including Humans

While it’s certainly true that animals pay the ultimate price with their lives, these farm workers are also oppressed by the very same system that values profit over everything else. Many workers have no voice for speaking out against the atrocities they are forced to commit every day.

You can show your support of farm workers and farmed animals by ditching the industry that places them behind profit. Click here for more information on making the switch, including simple meal ideas.

Photo: Earl Dotter/Oxfam America