FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2021
CONTACT: Jessica Hayssen, email@example.com, 651.261.8559
WORTHINGTON, MN — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663, the union for over 13,200 Minnesota essential workers in meatpacking, food, retail and healthcare sent a letter to JBS, the largest meatpacking company in the United States, urging them to reinstate Hazard Pay of $4 more an hour for meatpacking workers at their plant in Worthington. The letter also requests JBS adds their voice and support for additional frontline worker payouts from the $250 million Frontline Worker Pay Working Group, which was created by Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota state legislators in July as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response and assistance for essential workers from federal funds given to the state.
The letter from UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht comes at a time when JBS resumed a mask mandate on Wednesday, August 11 at the Worthington pork processing plant, and Delta Variant cases are rising across the state. The plant employs over 1,800 UFCW Local 663 meatpacking workers.
Below is text of the letter sent to JBS:
Dear Mr. Lovell,
As the coronavirus Delta variant surges, I urge you to reinstate the $4 per hour hazard pay bonuses at JBS in Worthington, MN. At a time when Employers are implementing mask and other mandates for employees, and we are hearing about positive Delta variant cases amongst workers, reinstating hazard pay shows appreciation for the continuing sacrifices of meat packing, processing, and food manufacturing workers on the frontlines of this pandemic who are putting their physical and mental health, and that of their families’, at risk to feed our communities.
Over the last year and a half we have heard repeatedly from members about the stress and physical harm caused by the coronavirus. Unacceptably large numbers of members were infected at work and brought it home to their spouses, children, and community – many who also fell sick. We still hear about the lingering symptoms of those who contracted COVID-19. Now as we hear about members who are testing positive with the Delta variant we are even more adamant that Employers should provide hazard pay. Throughout the pandemic, UFCW Local 663 members continue showing up at work, often working longer shifts and on weekends, to make sure production continues and the food chain is secure, while profit margins reach historic highs.
Please reward the sacrifices of your employees by reinstating hazard pay and publicly voicing your support for meatpacking, processing, and food manufacturing workers to be included by the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group created by Governor Walz to receive some of the $250 million set aside from the federal American Rescue Plan. Several UFCW Local 663 members have already testified and others will continue to testify in the weeks ahead about their experiences to make sure that all frontline workers are top of mind to be included. I ask that you do the same by signing up to testify and/or submitting a letter of support.
Feel free to reach out to me to discuss in greater detail how we can work together so that meatpacking, processing, and food manufacturing workers are acknowledged for all their hard work.
Matt Utecht, President
UFCW Local 663
UFCW has been the leading national voice for essential workers in grocery, retail, meatpacking, and many other frontline industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. UFCW Local 663 has been tirelessly advocating for Hazard Pay throughout the pandemic. UFCW Local 663 holds union employers accountable to enhanced safety standards, and fights together with UFCW Local 9 for the health and safety of all meatpacking workers in Minnesota through legislative efforts.
COVID NUMBERS: In the latest data compiled, UFCW confirmed that among the union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least:
- 482 frontline worker deaths and at least 96,600 frontline workers infected or exposed
- 197 grocery worker deaths and at least 43,300 grocery workers infected or exposed
- 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,400 meatpacking workers infected or exposed
- 67 food processing worker deaths and 13,100 food processing workers infected or exposed
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.