We spend a lot of time discussing the animals suffering from industrial animal agriculture. What we do not spend much time thinking about, however, is the human factor involved.
It is easy to assume that the people in this industry are here because they want to be or have selected this career. While this may be the case in some instances, the truth is that many of the workers in this industry are only here because they feel they have no other options.
Mental Costs of Working At A Slaughterhouse
Many slaughterhouse workers are prisoners in a sector that takes a massive toll on their mental and emotional health, but they feel they cannot leave because they must provide for their families. Working conditions in a slaughterhouse are abhorrent. The men and women who work in slaughterhouses often suffer from PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts. They must disassociate themselves from what they are doing at work.
They look these gentle animals in the eye daily before taking their lives. The stench of blood and feces fills their noses persistently, and they go home covered in blood. Most workers bring three changes of clothes with them each day. They change clothes throughout the day and change into clean clothes before they leave at the end of the day, but despite their best efforts, most carry this trauma home with them.
“A massive statistical analysis found that after controlling for many variables (including poverty and immigration,) counties with slaughterhouses have four times the national average of violent arrest, with significantly higher rates of alcoholism, domestic abuse, child abuse and suicide.”
Yet they stay. Not because these people love their job but because they believe this is the only job they can get. They see this job as the only way to care for their families. And they suffer in silence for fear of losing that job. The fear also extends to legal repercussions or even deportation.
The meat-processing industry is widely known to hire undocumented workers who go unprotected by minimum wage laws or fair work standards. Also, “Ag-gag laws currently exist in six states, penalizing whistleblowers who investigate the day-to-day activities of industrial farms, including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio at a farm.”
Brave New Life Project Creates Change in Colorado
For meat processing industry employees in Colorado, this is where the Brave New Life Project comes in. The Brave New Life Project aims to help workers who wish to transition out of the animal agriculture industry.
The Brave New Life Project program assists animal agriculture employees through the necessary steps of exploring all their options. The program helps them to transition out of the industry. Many of these employees are unaware of the potential options available to them or believe they lack the skills to fill any other job. Often, they think that no one else will hire them or fear repercussions for even attempting to find other employment.
No Legal Protection for Animals or Workers
Farmworkers are severely underpaid and under-represented. The legal protections that cover most employees throughout the country under the Fair Labor Standards Act do not apply to workers in the animal agriculture industry. “The exclusion of farm workers from labor laws dates back to 1938 and the passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. Owing, according to Loyola University Chicago research, to racism from some Congressmen, farm workers (at the time, primarily Black) were at first wholly excluded from labor protections such as a minimum wage.
Today, many of these gaps remain: there is no federal provision for overtime pay (standard in other industries), the right to unionize (ditto), and even lower minimum age requirements (despite agriculture being a dangerous industry).”
Brave New Life Project is a community-based project that partners with Colorado businesses and organizations to provide free employment services, mental health services, and educational programs to anyone wishing to transition out of industrial animal AG or breeding jobs. They offer one-on-one job coaching, resume help, interview prep, and more. The organization works to create a customized plan for each individual based on their needs and circumstances. The Brave New Life Project will even search for jobs for the transitioning employee, allowing them to continue their current position until they find a new job.
Helping Workers Escape Slaughterhouse Jobs
The overall goal of The Brave New Life Project is to provide more humane and sustainable employment opportunities to anyone who wants to escape the animal agriculture industry. Industrial animal ag and breeding jobs take a significant toll on mental and emotional health as well as physical health. The Brave New Life Project offers safer alternatives for work. They strive to help individuals and their families recover and thrive financially, mentally, and emotionally.
For more information on The Brave New Life Project, visit bravenewlife.org.
At FARM, we strive to create a world where animals are no longer used, abused, raised, or killed for food. If you want to make a difference for animals, please consider going vegan and, in turn, removing your financial support for animal exploitation. Each day, you can make a statement and create change with your wallet by refusing to purchase animal products.