Tyson Foods commits to healthier workplace
April 26, 2017
by Bob Sims
Company initiatives expand programs to support employees.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods’ commitment to sustainable food production at scale includes an expanded effort to create a better workplace at its production facilities through expanded programs that support employees.
|Noel White, COO at Tyson Foods
“We believe sustainability is about continuous improvement and solutions that last, and this includes a healthier workplace,” Noel White, COO at Tyson Foods, said in a statement. “We’ve always been committed to supporting our employees and have sound workplace practices in place, but also want to do better. That’s why we’re taking steps that include expanding training, improving workplace safety and compensation, increasing transparency and helping workers with life skills.”
Tyson expects the investments in sustainability will fund themselves through reduced costs and waste, and create a beneficial cycle that will contribute to the future.
Highlights of Tyson’s efforts to provide a healthier workplace to over 95,000 US operations employees (114,000 total team members) includes:
• A continuing commitment to a goal of zero worker injuries and illnesses; striving to achieve a 15 percent year-over-year reduction in worker injuries and illnesses.
• A commitment to a goal of zero turnover; striving for a 10 percent year-over-year improvement company-wide in Team Member retention.
• Plans to hire 25 or more poultry plant trainers — adding to the more than 260 trainers and 30 training coordinators the company has hired for its poultry business since 2015.
• Expansion of the “We Care” safety communications program to all poultry plants.
• Continued participation of hourly workers in plant safety councils.
• A pilot compensation program at two poultry plants that involves significantly increasing base wages and shortening the time it takes new workers to move to higher wage rates (the company implemented pay increases at all poultry plants in November 2016 and millions of dollars in benefit improvements in January 2017).
• Expansion of Upward Academy, a life skills program for workers.
• Publicly sharing the results of third-party social compliance audits of Tyson plants; the company initiated the audits in fiscal 2015.
Tyson said in a statement that the company’s purpose is to raise global expectations for how much good food can do. As part of that, Tyson will collaborate with organizations such as Oxfam and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). Tyson and the UFCW have 22 labor contracts that represent over 24,000 workers.
“Tyson Foods’ commitment to worker safety and worker rights should not just be applauded — it should serve as a model for the rest of the industry,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Through our ongoing partnership with Tyson Foods, we have already made valuable progress. We look forward to these new and expanded initiatives and to continuing to work together to provide a better, safer workplace for the hard-working men and women at Tyson Foods.”
Another program Tyson has been working on, Upward Academy designed by both Tyson Foods and the Cisneros Center for New Americans where it’s offered, focuses on helping immigrant workers with life skills through classes such as English as a second language and General Education Development (GED) courses.
“We appreciate the leadership Tyson Foods has shown by investing in its workforce through programs like this,” said Nicolas Perilla of the Cisneros Center. “It’s fundamentally good for business and the community by helping new Americans be successful and feel at home. More companies should replicate this program.”
CEO Tom Hayes has previously said, “We will use our reach, capabilities and resources to drive positive change. Trade-offs will be minimized as we solve for healthier food, healthier animals, a healthier environment and a healthier workplace. All of these areas must advance together if we are to create a more sustainable system.”