The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 (UFCW 7), which represents more than 3,000 JBS plant employees in Greeley, has filed formal complaints against the meat processor regarding ongoing pay and workplace concerns.
Last week, UFCW 7 met with JBS executives following reports that the company was approaching employees directly to negotiate salaries. UFCW 7 hoped to secure a fair mid-contract agreement that would include industry standard pay and enhanced safety measures and worker protections.
However, the union issued a statement after JBS reportedly failed to reach a “fair deal” for workers and said it “will not stand for such tactics”.
According to the union, almost 300 workers at the Greeley plant in Colorado have tested positive for Covid-19, with the most deaths of meat processing plant workers due to the coronavirus. Since the pandemic broke out, JBS has temporarily closed several plants including its Greeley plant and another beef facility in Pennsylvania.
Several media publications have since reported that JBS Greeley employees have participated in a walk-out over the disputes.
In its statement, Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said: “Instead of correcting the in-plant conditions that led to an outbreak, JBS attempted to con workers directly into a bad salary deal at an extremely vulnerable time.”
Cordova raised concerns about the continuation of ‘work while sick culture,’ supervisors not wearing masks, inadequate drinking water resources, as well as a lack of social distancing and staggered breaks.
“The Union continues to demand better safety measures and worker protections including high-quality PPE, enhanced social distancing measures, daily Covid-19 testing, as well as industry standard wages, including hazard pay, and paid sick leave, without the threat of retaliation from the company,” added Cordova.
FoodBev reached out to JBS for comment. A spokesperson said:
“On June 9th, we voluntarily offered to open the collective bargaining agreement that expires in July 2021 and immediately provide additional wages and increased benefits with no strings attached to our Greeley beef team members.
“Unfortunately, for more than a month, the local union has refused to present our offer to our team members, costing them thousands of dollars in lost wages.
“In the last month, our team members across the country have approved similar wage increases at JBS USA facilities. Our Greeley beef team members have worked hard and deserve the opportunity to vote on our offer like the nearly 24,000 other JBS USA team members who have recently voted to increase their wages.
“JBS USA implemented safety measures before receiving direction, and followed and often exceeded CDC guidance every step of the way. The Greeley beef plant has undergone numerous audits, safety inspections and reviews by federal, state and local health authorities. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently toured the facility and offered no suggested changes or opportunities for improvement to our Covid-19 preventive measures.”
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