Dangerous working conditions and widespread disregard for basic labor protection put New York City food industry workers at risk of personal injury
42% of NYC food workers have suffered personal injury at work. Cuts and “slip and fall” injuries are the most common injuries followed closely by headaches, back injuries and injuries sustained after being hit by equipment. Dangerous working conditions and the lack of training explain this high rate of personal injury among food workers in New York City according to a recent study entitled FEEDING NEW YORK Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in New York City’s Food Manufacturing Industry and published by Brandworkers and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center.
The study provides an in-depth look at the difficult working conditions of the 14’000 New Yorkers working in food factories and food warehouses located mostly in Brooklyn and Queens. NYC food industry workers are mostly Hispanic immigrants , many of them undocumented, with limited educations and English skills. Even though they live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, their wages are low, their hours are inconsistent and they are not compensated for overtime. Healthcare coverage is most of the time not available and workers are often forced to work even though they are sick or injured. Discrimination and abuse is widespread among workers of color or undocumented workers. Female workers are unrepresented. They are given the lowest paid tedious jobs and are treated as expendable. Most workers do not belong to a union, they would like to but they fear retaliation from their employers.