Workers protest over bathroom breaks at chicken plant in Morganton

Updated: Aug. 14, 2017 at 8:07 PM EDT
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MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - A few dozen protesters marched outside of the Case Farms chicken processing plant in Morganton, hoping to meet with company officials.

They were concerned about conditions for workers inside the facility. Former workers said one big problem for those currently on the job is a lack of bathroom access when they need it.

Irma Matom says she worked there until two months ago. She claims daytime workers get breaks every one and a half to two hours. But late afternoon and nighttime workers, she said, stay on the processing lines six to seven hours at a stretch.

Hunter Ogletree of the Western North Carolina Worker Center said pregnant women are especially hard hit.

"People are compelled to wear diapers," he said.

The protestors carried a letter they wanted to hand off to company officials with the hope of "starting a dialogue with workers," said Ogletree.

A security officer stopped the group from entering company property but took the letter with a promise to give it to officials inside the building.

WBTV called the front desk of Case Farms and asked to speak with the plant manager. They sent a statement Monday evening.

Case Farms has recently been targeted by the Western North Carolina Workers Center and Interfaith Worker Justice at the Morganton division
regarding working conditions. We respectfully disagree with the allegations made by the aforementioned parties.

We at Case Farms are grateful to have such hard-­working, dedicated and loyal employees as the backbone of our company. While we've always been committed to the success and welfare of our employees, we continually seek ways to make improvements.

We strive to create a work culture and environment in which our employees feel valued and safe. We take any employee concern seriously. Case Farms has devoted significant time and resources to ensure work place successes for our employees, especially as it concerns health and safety standards in our facilities. Some of the initiatives and practices Case Farms already has in place include:

• Holding weekly employee round table discussions to raise and address any and all employee issues, including bathroom breaks
• Corporate safety structure and procedures, including training and retraining methods for our employees
• Utilization of ProcessMAP's integrated health and safety software to aid in reporting within OSHA's workplace safety standards
• Utilization of Alchemy software for safety trainings in many areas throughout our plants and necessary documentation for OSHA on all employee training

We believe if we treat our employees with respect and dignity, and listen and address their concerns and issues, we will continue to be successful.

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