Angelina Montez collaborates with Professor Kathleen Hunt on Communications Research Project

Student Angelina Montez Examines Meatpacking Labor Exploitation During Pandemic

Angelina Montez '22, a junior double majoring in communication and women's, gender, and sexuality studies, received a spring Academic Year Undergraduate Research Experience (AYURE) award for her research project, "Understanding the Communicative Conditions of Meatpacking Labor Exploitation amid the COVID-19 Pandemic," which she's conducting with faculty mentor Kathleen P. Hunt, an assistant professor of communication.

The research project contrasts the internal working conditions of meatpacking employees with their companies' public-facing media and public relations campaigns. Their research has found that companies misrepresent general worker safety as well as COVID-19-specific safety measures in an attempt to rewrite the narrative that is playing out in factories across the country. By emphasizing employees' essential worker status and their dedication to supporting their employees during this crisis, companies project a public image as proud protectors rather than profiteers.

The team is focusing on presenting their findings at upcoming academic conferences with future plans to publish in an academic journal. Montez also hopes that COVID can be a catalyst for positive change regarding the working conditions of underrepresented groups. She will continue her work with food systems and environmental communication as well as issues of workers' rights and environmental advocacy.

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