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Federal government fines Smithfield plant for COVID

The federal government has fined the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for COVID-19 related violations.

OSHA, part of the U.S. Labor Department, says Smithfield failed to protect its employees from the coronavirus. The $13-thousand-500-dollar fine is the maximum allowed by law.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union calls the fine “completely insufficient” and blames the Trump administration for the “slap on the wrist” for Smithfield. The union calls the fine a “slap in the face” to meatpacking workers.

More than 12-hundred Smithfield workers at the plant tested positive for the virus and four died.

The North American Meat Institute president and CEO, Julie Anna Potts, is critical of the citation saying meat and poultry processing companies quickly and diligently took steps to protect their workers at the outset while having to “overcome challenges associated with limited personal protective equipment.”

Potts says “positive cases of COVID-19 associated with meat and poultry companies are trending down compared with cases nationwide.”

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