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Car vigil held in South Omaha for packing plant safety awareness

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-21 11:20:35-04

SOUTH OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With so many impacted by the pandemic, an event took place in South Omaha Saturday afternoon to ensure those working in meat packing plants are not forgotten.

Lined up car after car, dozens of people in South Omaha showed their support for meat packing plant workers impacted by COVID-19.

"They've put so much loyalty into these companies, you know I know so many people that have been there for 20, 30, 40 years and for them to treat them this way is just wrong and they need to do better," Uriel Avila said.

"We want to make sure that they have PPE, that they're able to talk to their employers if there's a problem, OSHA reporting, people over profits, it's a lot of things and it's a demonstration that's really been across the whole state," Organizer Dulce Sherman said.

Cars went caravanning by all the major meat packing plants in Omaha to help raise awareness of the issues impacting workers during the pandemic.

"They're the ones that are helping you make the money and it really is about putting people over profits and we need to bring back ethics to and morality to our businesses and our country," Sherman said.

More than half of the COVID-19 cases in Douglas County are in the Hispanic population, many of whom are working in those packing plants.

Uriel Avila tells 3 News Now he joined the caravan because his step dad, a supervisor at the Tyson plant in rurual Nebraska tested positive for COVID-19 a little over month ago, so did his mother.

"I called her so many times throughout the day just to check up on her because I was legitimately scared," Avila said. "I didn't know what was going to happen to her, she felt extremely, extremely bad as did my step dad.

His parents have recovered but he says the plants need to do better.

Organizer Erik Servellon agrees.

"I know there's a lot of lip service out there when it comes to supporting meat packing plants, well let's start putting policy behind it, let's start putting dollars behind it, let's start putting money into supporting meat packing plant employees, things like hazard pay, PPE, and any kind of safety standards that could help keep them healthy," he said.

Paid sicks leave for all workers, as well as increased workers rights are also demands from organizers.