Another reason newspapers should have a Labor section

Here is the full article of something in the Boston Globe a couple days ago:

A report from international advocacy group Oxfam says poultry workers in the United States labor in a ‘‘climate of fear,’’ with some forced to wear diapers on the job. It says many workers are afraid to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. The report says a worker at a Simmons Foods plant in Arkansas told Oxfam that she and many others resorted to wearing diapers. A Tyson Foods worker says in the report that many workers at his North Carolina plant ‘‘have to urinate in their pants.’’ Simmons says the allegations are ‘‘troubling’’ and the refusal of bathroom breaks isn’t tolerated. Tyson says it’s concerned by the claims, but currently has ‘‘no evidence they’re true.’’ The National Chicken Council says it believes that ‘‘such instances are extremely rare.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here’s the beginning of the report by Oxfam:

While the poultry industry today enjoys record profits and pumps out billions of chickens,  the reality of life inside the processing plant remains grim and dangerous. Workers earn low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, toil in difficult conditions, and have little voice in the workplace.

Despite all that, though, workers say the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack  of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women.

Routinely, poultry workers say, they are denied breaks to use the bathroom. Supervisors mock their needs and ignore their requests; they threaten punishment or firing. Workers wait inordinately long times (an hour or more), then race to accomplish the task within a certain timeframe (e.g., ten minutes) or risk discipline.

This is a report that applies to more than 100,000 workers in one of the biggest industries in the US, but it rates one paragraph in a major US newspaper. They will spend more time on an article trying to say why the stock of a company went up or down than this. Why? The Business section is meant to focus on stories about business and stories about workers only affect business if there is some form of action or punishment. That’s why there are no stories about the strike by Verizon workers. That’s why this story rates one paragraph

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