SALISBURY, MD. — Dozens of Perdue Farms processing plant workers at a Kathleen, Ga., facility walked off the job the week of March 23 over concerns about working conditions and compensation.

According to WMAZ, as many as 50 Perdue employees left the facility due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The report said workers did not feel safe and feared they had possibly been exposed to COVID-19. Some claimed that Perdue wasn’t sanitizing the plant sufficiently, according to the report. 

Perdue Farms said the walkout only involved about half the number of employees reported and that most of them were back on the job.

“To provide perspective on what happened Tuesday (March 24), two dozen of the approximately 600 total associates who work at our Georgia facility walked out,” said Diana Sounder, director of corporate communications for Perdue Farms. “After speaking with management, the majority of them returned to work. We know that many are feeling anxious during these uncertain times and we’re doing everything we can to take good care of our associates while continuing to produce safe and reliable food.”

Perdue said it increased sanitation and cleaning protocols as part of its precautionary measures to prevent the virus. This includes the sanitization of all facilities every 24 hours. The company is also encouraging all workers to stay home if they are not feeling well or think they may have been exposed to the virus. 

“We have extended the hours of many of the onsite wellness centers at our facilities, which are available to all associates and their families free of charge,” Sounder said. “Importantly, we are also working to make our paid leave policies even more flexible during this time to be responsive and provide added relief to associates. We’ve also put additional associate-recognition programs in place to increase pay for a set time period for our hourly associates, and are providing bonuses two months early.”

Perdue is the fourth-largest producer of chicken in the United States and operates food processing plants in 10 states.