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Rep. Wolgamott’s legislation improving safety for meatpacking workers clears first committee with bipartisan support

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, the House Labor and Industry Committee held the session’s first hearing on House File 23, authored by Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL - St. Cloud), which would improve safety standards for meat and poultry processing workers. The committee approved the bill with bipartisan support and referred it to the House Agriculture Committee. 

“Meatpacking workers in my community and across the state are often forced to make a gut-wrenching choice: do they go into unsafe working conditions and risk harm to themselves or their family, or do they try to get by without a sorely-needed paycheck? My bill would take steps to ensure they’re not faced with that impossible choice,” said Rep. Wolgamott. “Though the pandemic is behind us, the unfinished work of this bill remains. All Minnesota workers deserve safe, healthy workspaces, and our meatpackers should be no different.”

In the spring of 2020, nearly half of the workers at the state’s largest meat processing plant tested positive for COVID. Prior to the pandemic, 171 workers’ compensation claims in Minnesota came from workers for injuries suffered at meatpacking plants in 2019 alone. 

House File 23 is a comprehensive bill that seeks to protect workers at meat packing plants in several different ways, including protecting them from COVID-19, ergonomic injuries, and retaliation. The bill addresses both short-term and long-term needs for workers and workplace safety, impacting businesses with at least 50 employees that engage in slaughtering, butchering, canning, packing, and manufacturing of meat. This includes pet food manufacturing and egg production, but does not include grocery stores, delis, or restaurants.

More information can be found on the committee’s webpage. A video of the hearing can be viewed on the House Public Information YouTube channel


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