Activists are encouraging slaughterhouse workers to switch to a nonviolent profession: flower arrangement.
Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it will pay to train meatpackers in the new career field.
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a release: “PETA is happy to help budding flower arrangers flee the meat industry for the sake of animals and their own mental health.”
“We’re offering to retrain them in a healthy, 100 percent animal-friendly trade: flower arrangement,” the organization said.
PETA made the offer in a letter sent to the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. The union represents employees working at JBS USA—a meat processing plant in Greeley, Colorado.
This comes after a number of meatpackers working at the plant tested positive for the novel coronavirus. According to the Denver Post, more than 800 JBS USA employees called off work last month due to concerns about COVID-19.
PETA added: “We’ll extend this offer to any workers who will abandon their jobs in one of the country’s most dangerous occupations: dismembering the bodies of animals on the kill floor.”
Coronavirus aside, slaughterhouses are hazardous. The Food Empowerment Project states that meat companies consistently prioritize profits above worker safety. Excessive production demands jeopardize workers, putting them at risk of injury.
The nonprofit states: “workers are conditioned to accept a hazardous and demeaning work environment if they want to remain employed.”
Meat Plants Close Due To Coronavirus
Last month, the USDA announced slaughterhouses across the country would remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic. It also said it would keep slaughterhouses staffed with federal inspectors.
But many slaughterhouses have been struggling to stay open.
A number of meat producers, including Tyson Foods Inc. and National Beef Packing Co, have shut down meat plants.
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Smithfield Foods Inc’s pork processing plant has been labeled the single-biggest source of coronavirus cases in the U.S. More than 700 coronavirus cases are confirmed among its workers. The meat giant has shut down the plant indefinitely.
“These are unprecedented times for our industry,” National Beef said in a statement.