“because chickens and pigs (and cows and lambs and turkeys … ) are living things whose shapes and sizes vary, cutting and pulling breast meat from chickens, for example, can’t be done with machines or robots. It has to be done by human beings, and to achieve the output that slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants want, it has to be done quickly.
The plants’ practice of placing workers shoulder to shoulder, while doing exhausting work that leads to heavy breathing, has made them epicenters for the coronavirus outbreak this year. The Trump administration has tried to keep the mostly low-income workers in these plants working all the same out of fear of a “meat shortage,” putting the workers at considerable risk.
That’s hardly the only risk, however, that workers in these plants face. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in animal slaughter and production face higher rates of injury than coal miners or construction workers. Poultry processing in particular is the leading occupational cause of finger amputations in the US.”