June 1, 2021 -
It was 32 years ago that Southern Exposure — the print forerunner to Facing South — set out to document conditions in the region's fast-growing poultry industry. Many of the problems it reported on continue today. And as our recent reporting has shown, the pandemic created new challenges for the industry's changing workforce while also presenting opportunities for organizing in an industry that's long resisted unionization.
June 1, 2021 -
Licolli co-founded the group Venceremos to organize poultry workers in Northwest Arkansas and now serves as its director, a position she previously held at the now-defunct Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center. In this oral history interview, she talks to Facing South about her upbringing in Mexico, how her theater education plays into her organizing strategy, sexism's impact on worker organizing, and lessons she's learned through her work.
May 20, 2021 -
This Mental Health Awareness month, consider the psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly for those who were already facing racism and other extreme stressors. Most Southern states' refusal to expand Medicaid makes getting care more difficult for those who need it most.
May 12, 2021 -
Poultry giant Tyson Foods Inc., the third-largest employer in Arkansas, accounted for nearly one-third of the state's 9,065 sickened workers across all industries over nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by reporting project Arkansascovid.
March 23, 2021 -
The organizer who pioneered politically transformative get-out-the-vote efforts in Georgia is now using that existing infrastructure to get some of the state's most vulnerable residents vaccinated against COVID-19.
March 17, 2021 -
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the ongoing loss of hospital beds in rural communities across the South. The greatest losses were in Tennessee — among the states that haven't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The rate of rural hospital closures in non-expansion states is six times greater than in states that expanded the program.
March 8, 2021 -
Since Congress declined to grant businesses immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits, Republican lawmakers in Florida and other states are renewing their push to ban negligence lawsuits filed by workers and consumers exposed to COVID-19.
February 17, 2021 -
Just over two months ago, more than two dozen workers staged a walkout at a George's poultry plant in Arkansas over conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's what happened next.
February 5, 2021 -
Documents obtained by Facing South show the meatpacking giant's director of state and local government affairs smearing a local worker safety advocate, and how the company worked with local government officials to control the narrative about COVID-19 outbreaks in their plants.
January 28, 2021 -
The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended in the nation's meat and poultry processing facilities. Here's what organizers and advocates say the new administration can do to help keep workers and their communities safe.
December 15, 2020 -
Employees at one of the fast-food giant's outlets in Durham, North Carolina, say they were not notified when a coworker tested positive for COVID-19, putting their health at risk. They recently went on strike to demand better safety protections — as well as higher wages.
December 10, 2020 -
Empleados de George's, Inc. en Springdale, Arkansas dicen que la compañía necesita re-implementar turnos escalonados y hacer posible el distanciamiento social en la planta de transporte vivo de la compañía.
December 8, 2020 -
Employees of a Springdale, Arkansas, processing plant owned by George's, one of the top U.S. chicken producers, are pressing the company to re-implement staggered shifts and make social distancing possible. The walkout, which the workers plan to continue until their demands are met, was the first such action by poultry workers in the state, which leads the nation in poultry production.
December 4, 2020 -
Victoria Bowden, 25, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, shares her and other young people's difficult experiences trying to get by during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now a graduate student intern with the Southern Economic Advancement Project, she offers practical ideas for fixing the systems that put young Southerners at risk of heavy debt, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness.
December 1, 2020 -
Republican lawmakers in Florida and Washington, D.C., are pushing bills to keep workers or customers who get COVID-19 from holding businesses accountable in court. The GOP wants legal immunity for businesses that comply with government standards.
November 19, 2020 -
Large poultry processors like Tyson have come under public fire for failing to protect their workers from COVID-19. But smaller poultry companies have had the same problems — and much less scrutiny.
October 28, 2020 -
Alabama has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the country, available only to people with incomes 18% or less of the federal poverty level. We spoke with Jim Carnes, the policy director of the nonprofit coalition Alabama Arise, about how this year's elections could impact the coalition's fight for Medicaid expansion.
October 26, 2020 -
Mississippi is one of the poorest states in America, and one-third of Black Mississippians live under the federal poverty line. We spoke with Calandra Davis, a policy analyst at Hope Policy Institute and a community activist, about how federal elections affect the regulatory state and thus people's access to affordable housing, health care, and banking.
October 15, 2020 -
COVID-19 struck Arkansas' small Marshallese community hard, in part because of their limited access to health care. We spoke with community leader Albious Latior about the power the first generation of Marshallese Americans eligible to vote has to advocate for health care for themselves and their elders.
August 26, 2020 -
For many students, remote learning in the midst of a pandemic is an uphill climb. For those learning English as a second language, the climb can be even steeper. It's a concern across the South, where a number of states have large public school enrollments of English language learners.
August 20, 2020 -
Emails obtained by Facing South reveal that as workers and community advocates begged for the closure of poultry plants with outbreaks, government and company officials worked closely to present a united front — and keep them open.
July 23, 2020 -
A group formed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) to strategize reopening the state's economy is chaired by a scion of the billionaire Walton family who sits on Walmart's board of directors, and it is staffed by employees of his holding company, according to documents obtained by Facing South.
July 16, 2020 -
Pamela Rush of rural Tyler, Alabama, recently passed away from complications of COVID-19. But far before the coronavirus infected her body, the Poor People's Campaign activist was battling the viruses of structural racism and poverty.
July 15, 2020 -
With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Southern states, federal and state elected officials are trying to prevent infected customers and workers from being able to sue negligent businesses.
July 13, 2020 -
A coalition of food system justice groups joined forces to file an administrative complaint accusing Tyson and JBS of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by failing to adequately protect their predominantly Black and brown workforces from COVID-19.
July 1, 2020 -
NC Raise Up/Fight for $15 recently brought together essential workers to testify to members of the General Assembly about why workers must be involved in creating and overseeing health and safety guidelines for their industries. This is the testimony of Faith Alexander, a certified nursing assistant at a Fayetteville hospital and a COVID-19 survivor.
June 24, 2020 -
As novel coronavirus cases rise in poultry plants near the meat-processing giant's headquarters in Northwest Arkansas, family members of workers say the company takes better care of their chickens than they do their employees.
June 9, 2020 -
Demonstrations against the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and police violence generally have spread to small towns like Siler City, North Carolina, home to a chicken-processing plant that's been hit hard by COVID-19. Residents connecting police violence to ICE violence came out by the hundreds to say that "las vidas negras importan."
June 1, 2020 -
Poultry plants in Northwest Arkansas are seeing a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus. Worker advocates are demanding they be shut down, despite President Trump's executive order that they remain open.
June 1, 2020 -
Several chronic health conditions that disproportionately affect residents of Southern states are now considered potential risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19. As the country moves toward reopening, public health experts fear the pandemic could wreak havoc on vulnerable communities across the South.
May 22, 2020 -
Dominion Energy's and Duke Energy's need for gas was in decline even before the COVID-19 outbreak, which has further cut energy demand. But the companies are still pressing ahead with what critics warn could turn out to be an $8 billion-plus stranded fossil-fuel asset, even while the urgency of addressing climate change becomes clearer.
May 20, 2020 -
At the state and federal level, lawmakers are pushing legislation that would prevent some people from suing their employers if they contract the novel coronavirus at work. Labor leaders call the proposals an "outrage" and an attempt by businesses to skirt responsibility.
May 19, 2020 -
A new analysis by Facing South finds that counties with prisons and meatpacking plants are particularly vulnerable to intense COVID-19 outbreaks. So are the region's majority-black counties.
May 7, 2020 -
State and federal lawmakers are erecting temporary barriers for workers and consumers sickened by the novel coronavirus to bring lawsuits against companies they hold responsible. For example, a new North Carolina law bars pandemic-related lawsuits against "essential businesses" — even if they're negligent.
May 7, 2020 -
Already dealing with longstanding barriers to the ballot, voter organizations will be turning out the youth vote this year amid an unprecedented public health crisis — and they are transitioning to a virtual format for their mobilization efforts.
May 6, 2020 -
Across the country, COVID-19 is impacting black people disproportionately. Many worry the disease could wreak havoc in the South, home to most black Americans, as several Southern states start reopening.
April 28, 2020 -
As President Trump pledges action to shield meatpacking companies from liability for sickened workers, employees of two major poultry-processing companies in Arkansas say Tyson and George's aren't doing enough to keep them safe in the pandemic.
April 24, 2020 -
A decade after the BP oil spill set off an environmental health disaster in communities across the Gulf Coast, the company and the rest of the U.S. oil and gas industry continue to inflict pain on vulnerable populations across the South — and they're now implicated in raising the death rate from the novel coronavirus in African-American communities across Louisiana.
April 20, 2020 -
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging through correctional facilities, many states have ordered the release of nonviolent offenders in local jails or prison inmates at greater risk from the virus. But states in the Deep South have been slow to act. Meanwhile, Louisiana is moving its COVID-19-stricken prisoners to the notorious Angola penitentiary — an hour's drive from a hospital with a ventilator.
April 20, 2020 -
The migrant and seasonal farmworkers who help feed the U.S. are considered "essential" employees amid the coronavirus pandemic and must show up to work to earn enough money to survive. As schools move online and government child development programs close temporarily, they're left scrambling to figure out what to do with their children.
April 17, 2020 -
Severe weather devastated communities across the South over Easter weekend. Now they're trying to figure out how to recover from a natural disaster in the middle of a pandemic — and how to prepare for future storms.
April 10, 2020 -
The Southeast Crescent Regional Commission was created in 2008 to provide economic development assistance to Black Belt states but has never received its full appropriation from Congress — even while its counterpart covering whiter, richer Northern states has. With Black Belt communities being ravaged by the pandemic, it's past time for action.
April 9, 2020 -
The decennial U.S. population count is underway and will be used for everything from drawing new congressional districts to deciding where to allocate federal resources — including any potential coronavirus vaccine. But the pandemic is complicating the process and raising concerns about potential undercounts, which would inflict more pain on suffering communities.
April 8, 2020 -
Calls have grown louder for states to allow more voting by mail as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. North Carolina recently made it harder to request an absentee ballot in response to fraud in a congressional race, but a group that works with black voters wants a court to strike down the changes as discriminatory.
April 7, 2020 -
Southern states are among those with the nation's highest rates of homelessness. Some places in the region are taking targeted action to protect the unhoused, who are particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
April 2, 2020 -
Many states and local communities in the South have ordered restaurants to move to takeout-only to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, and business is down even in places where they're still open. That means tough times for low-wage food servers, especially given the stingy unemployment benefits offered in some states.
March 27, 2020 -
With daily life disrupted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, voting rights advocates are calling for action to ensure that the 2020 elections are free, fair, accessible, and secure. Here are the steps they say we need to take to protect both public health and democracy.
March 27, 2020 -
As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic begins making its way into crowded U.S. jails, prisons, and detention centers, prison reform advocates are calling on officials to take action to protect the vulnerable.
March 27, 2020 -
With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forcing Americans to work and study from home, access to high-speed internet is critical — but in the South far fewer people have access than providers report, and many states have erected barriers to community networks.
March 13, 2020 -
A skilled nursing facility that's part of the Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America chain, which is owned by billionaire GOP donor Forrest Preston, is at the center of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle area. Stories have emerged of gross mismanagement of the outbreak at the facility, whose corporate owner has also recently been in trouble for Medicare fraud and worker discrimination.