On Sept. 26, the family of BPI founder Eldon Roth announced plans to establish the fund to benefit about 750 workers who lost their jobs when the company was forced to close plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa. The company kept one plant open, located in South Sioux City, Nebraska, although its staff was cut back. It also maintained operations at its headquarters in Dakota Dunes although more than 80 corporate positions were eliminated in 2012.
Since then, BPI companies filed a 2012 defamation lawsuit against ABC News for its reporting on the company’s production of what became infamously known as “pink slime” in many press reports. This past June, the case against ABC News and its correspondent, Jim Avila was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Roth has now written a letter to former employees to inform them of the process they need to go through in order to request financial relief via the fund.
“Those requesting financial relief through the fund should note that decisions regarding fund participation will be based on criteria such as: length of service with BPI; unemployment or other benefits our former employees may have received; and other factors that help us determine the impact that the plant closure and loss of BPI employment had on employees and their families. The fund is a set amount and we intend to use it to assist those most affected by the closures based on these factors,” the letter reads.
Determining distribution and eligibility of the funds will be coordinated by Rich Jochum and Jennifer Letch, who have been designated as corporate administrators for the BPI companies, which include BPI, BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Technologies Inc. According to a statement, Jochum and Letch will review applications for the funds from former workers to determine eligibility of individuals while working with chamber of commerce officials in the affected communities to assess possible distribution of the fund.
Jochum said details are being finalized but the process should begin in the next month. To determine individuals’ eligibility, “participation criteria will likely include such things as length of service with BPI, amount of potential unemployment, impact of the loss of employment, and similar factors,” he said.