FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 29, 2020
Contact: Jessica Hayssen
Minnesota’s Largest Meatpacking Union Urges JBS to Follow CDC Guidelines to Protect Workers and Food Supply
BROOKLYN CENTER, MN – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 President Matt Utecht called on JBS in Worthington to enact proper safety and testing standards before reopening, including: (1) daily worker testing and temperature checks, (2) priority access to PPE for all workers in plant, (3) safe line speeds to ensure social distancing and (4) isolating workers with symptoms or positive COVID-19 tests.
These guidelines for safely operating a meatpacking plant were recently recommended by the CDC. UFCW Local 663 represents over 1850 workers at the JBS plant in Worthington, which is the largest pork production facility in Minnesota.
UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht released the following statement:
“We are urging JBS and other companies to install the highest possible worker safety and testing standards when they reopen.
“This needs to be a collaborative effort with workers who are the heart and soul of our union, government and JBS executives that moves us to the safe reopening of JBS Worthington plant.
“Our food supply will remain at risk until every worker who makes pork and other proteins can go to work without facing an increased chance of contracting COVID-19.
“We must ensure every worker at JBS and other plants is working in a place that has PPE, social distancing and regular testing. These are tried and trusted ways to stop the continued spread of this deadly virus.
“The CDC recently released guidelines to keep meatpacking plants and the workers inside them safe from infection. These recommendations are supported by health care experts and should be followed.
“We stand ready to help JBS implement these guidelines to ensure that we keep essential meat processing workers safe and our country’s food supply secure.”
UFCW Local 663 represents more than 13,200 hard-working retail, meat packing and processing, food preparation and manufacturing, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota and Iowa. We strive to improve the lives of our members and of all working families by fighting for economic, political, and social justice in our workplaces and communities. Local 663 is part of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.