Keeping processing lines running at workers’ expense is not only a sign of our pandemic times. The meat and poultry processing industry has long treated workers as disposable.
“They just keep running the line,” Southern Black women workers told historian LaGuana Gray (2014) about the twentieth century poultry industry’s processes of exploitation—exploitation that broke their bodies as Americans’ skyrocketing appetite for chicken lined the pockets of plant owners and investors. My work with Black and Latinx immigrant poultry workers in the twenty-first century reveals the same: regardless of the racial, ethnic, gender, or citizenship background of the people slaughtering and processing the meat we eat, this industry has kept its lines running throughout history no matter the cost to those doing the heavy labor (Stuesse 2016). The time of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven no different.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in op-ed articles do not necessarily reflect the position of the Association or any other LASA member.
News articles from international media are reproduced in the original language of the source.
The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. With over 13,000 members, over 60% of whom reside outside the United States, LASA is the one association that brings together experts on Latin America from all disciplines and diverse occupational endeavors, across the globe. LASA's mission is to foster intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on Latin America, the Caribbean, and its people throughout the Americas, promote the interests of its diverse membership, and encourage civic engagement through network building and public debate.
If you wish to interview a LASA Executive Council member, you can contact the LASA communications office at (412) 648-7929 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.