In December we covered an AP story about U.S. supermarkets selling shrimp sourced from overseas slave labor. Now a Munchies article reveals that forced labor is prevalent in the U.S. seafood industry as well.
According to the article, the National Guestworker Alliance, a group representing temporary workers in the U.S., claims that “the exploitative conditions that shackle migrant workers in America are the equivalent of forced labor.”
A new report, which includes results of previous studies and interviews with 126 seafood-processing workers in Massachusetts, exposes pervasive abuse and exploitation. Many of the workers interviewed were part of the HB-2 visa program or were undocumented. Due to their legal status, companies easily mistreated them.
Workers reported verbal abuse, curfews, and stolen payment or underpayment, including failure to pay overtime. When workers spoke up, employers threatened to expose the immigration status of undocumented workers.
Daniel Castellanos, a former HB-2 worker and co-founder of NGA, said:
This new research exposes a reality that workers know all too well. Seafood processing workers are routinely subjected to severe forms of exploitation by companies producing cheap seafood for major retailers and food distributors like Walmart. And when they speak out or try to resist abuse, they are punished severely for it.
Unfortunately, extreme mistreatment of workers is also prevalent in other sectors of animal agriculture. Just last month, Oxfam reported that poultry industry workers were routinely denied bathroom breaks and forced to wear diapers.
Factory farming is cruel not only to animals but also to people. Fortunately, by switching to a compassionate vegan diet, we can refuse to contribute to such cruelty.
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