We’re nearing the end of 2021. But before turning the page on this year, we want to highlight the importance of bridging workers’ rights and public health. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, food chain workers have kept us alive, risking their lives and facing egregious working conditions. A recent CDM survey with 288 protein processing workers in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia revealed that migrant and immigrant workers, those with limited English proficiency, and women in protein processing industries were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. These groups of workers faced barriers to healthcare and were more likely to face workers’ rights violations. Findings from the survey include:

  • Workers with limited English proficiency were 11 times more likely to experience a health-related workers’ rights violation than those whose preferred language was English.
  • Women were twice as likely than men to report having experienced a worker’s rights violation.
  • Unvaccinated, non-unionized workers were 7 times more likely to express COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy than unvaccinated, unionized workers.

Unpacking the facts survey report

Find more information in Unpacking the facts: A rapid assessment of protein processing workers’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.


In response to the pandemic’s impacts on essential workers, CDM has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and community-based organizations – UFCW Local 27, Rebirth Inc., The Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA), Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), and Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) – to launch the Protein Processing Worker Project to control the spread of infectious diseases in Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. 

Together, our coalition led Health Within Our Reach, a digital and in-person communications and outreach campaign to increase COVID-19 health and safety best practices, encourage testing, and promote vaccine information and access. Leveraging the knowledge and resources of our partner organizations and expertise of processing workers, our efforts supported more than 60+ community events, delivered information and resources to 20,000+ workers and their families members in person, and reached hundreds of thousands more through 160+ digital and online multimedia resources and programs in Spanish, Mixtec, Haitian Creole, and English. We also formed a Worker Advisory Committee of a dozen poultry and seafood processing workers to provide expertise and feedback to inform our project’s strategies, activities, and materials. 

Impact Report PPP

Find out more about the core activities and strategies of the project in Protein Processing Worker Project: 2020 -2021 impact report 


The Protein Processing Worker Project coalition’s strength lies in our collective understanding of the communities and dynamics that shape Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia’s protein processing centers. We are thankful for all the effort, enthusiasm and passion that all our partners put into this first year of the project. Thanks to all those efforts and the support of CDC, the Protein Processing Worker Project has been renewed for a second year with increased funding, allowing the coalition to expand to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.