Protesters demand Bell & Evans protect workers after spread of COVID-19 cases and death

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FREDERICKSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — While some businesses are opening, There are calls for others to close. Workers at a Lebanon County poultry plant say they’re risking their lives going to work.

Two people have died from COVID-19 in connection with workers at the Bell and Evans poultry plant. Now activists are demanding action from the company to protect its workers.

Members of the organization, Make the Road Pennsylvania, say more than 20 people have contracted COVID-19 while working at Bell and Evans and spread it to their families at home.

“It’s because they’re immigrants. They don’t receive any aid from the government. They won’t receive any protections and so they’re abusing the workers while they say they’re taking care of the animals,” said Meagan Llerena, executive director of Make the Road Pennsylvania.

That’s why Llerena organized a 30 car funeral procession to honor the two lives lost and protest working conditions in the poultry plant.

Rafael Ferreiras says those conditions led to his father’s death.

“He don’t work at the company but he died because his wife works at the company,” Ferreiras said.

He says his stepmother travels from Reading in Berks County with seven others.
She, like many others are afraid to lose their jobs.

“No masks, no gloves; they’re all eating together, they’re all working together, close like two feet, three feet,” Ferreiras said.

Llerena says after a story ran in the Philadelphia Enquirer, “they have started to break up workers, intimidate them into not talking to us and to make sure that they get a little bit of back pay and they’ve only given that to certain workers.

Llerena says they should be treated like the essential workers they are.

“We demand them closing down the poultry plant so they can properly clean it, so that they can properly get the protection equipment that they need for the workers and provide them safe working conditions when they return,” Llerena said.

Bell and Evans did not respond to a request for comment.

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