Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

OSHA Fines Chinese-Owned Smithfield Foods For Causing Employees’ COVID-19 Infection

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 13, 2020

Human life is cheap to Corporate America.

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. For Failing to Protect Employees from Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

Agency: Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Date: September 10, 2020
Release Number: 20-1684-NAT

With a paltry, even laughable, mere $13,494 on the line, it’s not even a good slap on the wrist. They make that in a fraction of a second of business operations.

Remember: Smithfield Foods has NOT BEEN an American company since selling out to the Chinese in 2013. Good old fashioned Corporate American Wall $treet greed sold out America and Smithfield to China.

Wan Long, RIGHT, Chairman and CEO of WH Group, formerly called Shuanghui International, shakes hands with Charles Larry Pope, President and CEO of Smithfield Foods, at a press conference of WH Group in Hong Kong, China, 14 April 2014.
Two subsidiaries of Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development Co have gained access to the Russian market, after its parent company — WH Group Ltd, the world’s largest pork producer— acquired US pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc and bought a stake in Campofrio Food Group SA of Spain, the largest pan-European packaged meat products company, last year. The two Heilongjiang-based companies — Wangkui Shuanghui Beidahuang Food Co and Heilongjiang Baoquanling Shuanghui Food Industry Co — got the official nod after their production facilities and products were examined and assessed by officials from Russia’s meat products watchdog, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, in August, Shuanghui Development said on its website. To widen its import market for meat, the Russian government agreed to import meat products from five Chinese suppliers by the end of August, indicating the nation has taken a flexible strategy to balance the supply and demand relationship, while the US and its European allies are trying to squeeze the country’s trade space in the world market.

And the corporate masters are STILL selling out the people. Just read their laughable response later down. They’re actually protesting the poor token of a penalty.

Seriously. They are!

Even the right-tilting tabloid New York Daily News owned by Rupert Murdoch, has written about the fractional pittance which has been assessed upon the corporation by the OSHA.

Billion-dollar meatpacking companies fined total of $30,000 after 10 worker COVID deaths, 1,600 infections

By Joseph Wilkinson, New York Daily News, September 12, 2020 at 10:12 PM

And Congress has the power to act. However, with Moscow Mitch misleading the Senate, there’ll nothing be done about anything the House sends to that traitorous rich bastard.

WH Group, formerly known as Shuanghui International, bought the venerable American company known for their hams since its 1936 inception in Smithfield, Virginia, for $4.7 billion in 2013. In fact, it was the region’s Native Americans who taught the Paleface settlers to the area the unique curing process they’d created well over 500 years ago, and which increased in popularity as time went on.

After the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) claimed that the sale would not endanger national security, Smithfield then became a subsidiary of that publicly traded Chinese corporation. However, as Michigan’s Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow told PBS in 2014 “Food security IS National Security.”

I’ve written about that problem previously, on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 as:

Smithfield Foods Chinese Pork Project is a Wall Street Happy Meal Deal: American Prices Will Increase

More than anything, it looks like the Loser in Chief is in cahoots with the Chinese.

I mean, after all, if he’s as big and bad on them as he claims to be, this fine would be 100x time amount to start with.

Yes, that’d be USD$1,349,400.

It’s HIGH TIME for a 75/25 rule of law!

Simply put, it goes like this:

75% of any businesses’ ownership MUST be American to enjoy a 25% corporate tax rate.

Presently, the Federal Corporate Tax Tate is set at 21%. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the so-called “Trump tax cuts” which, true to course, benefited only the wealthy), the tax rate was 35%. I have little doubt that the law will be repealed, thus increasing the corporate tax rate.

There MUST be a punishment exacted, and penalty paid for corporations which despitefully exploit their domestic American existence!

What’s more, Congress could, and should, also enact a 60/40 rule of law, which, again, simply stated, is that for companies which are employee-owned, they must be at least 60% owned by employees – either direct, indirect (trust), or hybrid – in order to enjoy certain additional tax benefits not available to other corporate-owned businesses. By so doing, it would encourage employee ownership of businesses.

Corporate alienation and isolation from the day-to-day lives of their employees and the Average American is highly problematic, and such a rule would go a long way toward readjusting in a positive manner the lopsided and skewed income and wealth gap in the United States.

And much to my surprise, I have just learned that Corey Rosen, Founder of the National Center for Employee Ownership, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that promotes employee stock ownership, has written an OpEd published in The Hill which states in part that,

“Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of the most conservative members of Congress, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the most liberal, have both introduced sweeping proposals to broaden employee ownership in the U.S. That surprising fact testifies to just how practical—and urgent—this idea is.”

Mr. Rosen also pointed to 2019 research by Rutgers University which found in part, that “employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) enable families to significantly increase their assets, shrinking—though not eliminating—gender and racial wealth gaps,” and wrote that “ESOP companies helped employees gain a better understanding not just of corporate financial issues—most ESOPs have some form of open book management—but also personal financial planning. Many companies offered employees an increased voice in how their work was organized, providing a level of personal agency lacking in most jobs.”

How China purchased a cut of America’s prime pork industry (RevealNews.org)


OSHA fines Smithfield Foods $13,494 for not protecting South Dakota workers from COVID-19, faces backlash from company and workers – Agweek

Written By: Jeremy Fugleberg
Sep 10th 2020 – 1pm.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Smithfield Foods $13,494 for failing to protect employees at its Sioux Falls meatpacking plant from exposure to COVID-19, OSHA announced Thursday, Sept. 10, and both the company and the union that represents plant works are objecting to the decision.

The workplace safety agency said the Smithfield fine was the maximum allowed by law for the single violation it found at the plant, which for a time was one of the largest COVID-19 hotspots in the nation. OSHA cited the company for one violation of failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the plant in March and April sickened 1,294 employees and killed four, OSHA said. It also sickened hundreds of family members and other close contacts to workers.

“Employers must quickly implement appropriate measures to protect their workers’ safety and health,” OSHA Sioux Falls Area Director Sheila Stanley said in a news release. “Employers must meet their obligations and take the necessary actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus at their worksite.”

The OSHA fine is “wholly without merit” and Smithfield Foods will contest it, said Keira Lombardo, the Virginia-based company’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance.

“After an investigation that spanned many months and encompassed the review of over 20,000 pages of documents and 60 interviews, OSHA has issued only a singular citation under its catchall ‘general duty clause’ for conditions that existed on and prior to March 23,” she said in an emailed statement. “This is notable because OSHA did not issue guidelines for the meatpacking industry until April 26.”

The company took “extraordinary measures” to keep its employees safe on its own initiative, she said, even as “the Sioux Falls community experienced an early spike in COVID-19 cases, which impacted our plant.”

The union that represents workers at the Sioux Falls plant also expressed strong disapproval of OSHA’s decision to levy only a single citation.

“How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump Administration, clearly not much,” March Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said in an emailed statement. “This so-called ‘fine’ is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic.”

Perrone called on the federal government to create an enforceable safety standard, do rigorous proactive inspections and increase supplies of protective gear and COVID-19 testing, and said OSHA had been “asleep at the switch throughout this entire pandemic.”

“Smithfield is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that failed to protect its workers, with multiple deaths and more than a thousand infections on their watch,” he said. “This response by OSHA confirms that the company will not face any real consequences.”

OSHA launched an investigation into conditions at the plant in April. The facility employs about 3,700 people and handles about 5% of the nation’s pork supply.

The first case among Smithfield workers in Sioux Falls was reported to the state on March 24. As workers began to fall sick in late March, many workers complained they didn’t have the protective equipment they needed to avoid catching the illness at their workplace, and said they were afraid to go to work.

Smithfield has said it did its best to get protective gear to its workers despite a nationwide shortage, and called “flat out wrong” any reports of a divide between the company and its employees. But the company shuttered the plant for several weeks in mid-April, after local and state officials insisted the company do so due to the ongoing outbreak.

The company reopened the Sioux Falls plant after a visit from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Team, which issued recommendations to improve worker safety. The state also held a mass-testing event in early May for any Smithfield workers, family members and other close contacts.

The plant also became the site of a joint investigation between state and federal health agencies as a case study of COVID-19 spread among a large workplace. The results from that study haven’t been released, but its existence sparked a legal fight between OSHA and Smithfield Foods in July.

OSHA had been seeking materials gathered in the state-federal joint investigation and Smithfield asked a court to block the agency’s access, citing employee privacy concerns.

The company later dropped the lawsuit, saying it had reached an agreement with OSHA over the matter and no longer had concerns its employees’ privacy would be threatened. OSHA still got the documents it sought, according to Ron Parsons, U.S. attorney for South Dakota.

https://www.agweek.com/business/healthcare/6655554-OSHA-fines-Smithfield-Foods-13494-for-not-protecting-South-Dakota-workers-from-COVID-19-faces-backlash-from-company-and-workers

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