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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

MN Looks to Update Worker-Rights Law for Meatpacking Industry

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Tuesday, March 28, 2023   

The meat processing industry continues to face scrutiny over labor practices in states like Minnesota. Proposed legislation would update a 2007 law, calling on companies to provide more disclosure to those they hire about their rights. The measure cleared a House committee this week and has new language about providing information on matters such as workers' compensation requirements.

There are also updated standards for providing details in multiple languages with many of these plants hiring migrant workers.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South Saint Paul and the bill's sponsor, referenced to working conditions at various plants at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"And while the packing houses may have survived and thrived and made great profit, some of the workers did not, " he said.

A Republican committee member raised opposition to the plan, which includes increases in fines, and said it comes down hard on job creators. But Democrats countered that some companies within the industry have recently been accused of child labor violations. That includes Packers Sanitation Services, which just paid a $1.5-million fine in a case with Minnesota ties.

Rep. Aisha Gomez, DFL-Minneapolis, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said anyone concerned about the bill should research images from the JBS plant in Worthington at the start of the pandemic.

"There was no way to ensure the safety of these workers at the point, and yet, there they were - side by side with each other - no personal protective equipment, " she said.

The company, along with other big meat processing firms, came under federal officials' microscope over COVID outbreaks and deaths linked to their facilities. For its part, JBS noted it made substantial updates to protect workers as the pandemic continued. Meanwhile, there is a separate Minnesota bill this session that specifically addresses workplace safety at larger plants.


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