GREELEY, COLO. – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 7 in Colorado sent a letter to JBS USA on July 15 regarding ongoing pay and worker safety disputes at its beef processing facility in Greeley, Colo.
UFCW filed its first complaint with JBS after the union claimed the company met with members individually to discuss ongoing contract matters.
Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said members are asking for hazard pay, an additional $2 an hour and safer working conditions during the pandemic.
Media reports last week stated that JBS employees walked off the job over the pay disputes. The union said any walkouts last week were unauthorized.
JBS told MEAT+POULTRY in statement that it agreed to increase wages at all of its beef and pork facilities across the United States. The offer increases base pay to $18 per hour, with top rates of nearly $25 per hour. Additionally, the company said it provided more than $3,300 in bonus to the Greeley beef team during the pandemic, including $4 per hour in hazard pay.
“Unfortunately, for more than a month, the local union has refused to present our offer to our team members, costing them thousands of dollars in lost wages,” JBS spokesperson Cameron Bruett said. “Our Greeley beef team members have worked hard and deserve the opportunity to vote on our offer like the nearly 24,000 other JBS USA team members who have recently voted to increase their wages.”
JBS USA added that it voluntarily offered to open up its collective bargaining agreement with the union members that expires in July 2021.
The other complaint in the letter was over workplace conditions for employees. Cordova said that social distancing was not being observed, daily COVID-19 testing was not available daily and there were no regular breaks. She also claimed that managers of the plant are not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) or masks.
“We have implemented safety measures before receiving direction, and followed and often exceeded CDC guidance every step of the way,” Bruett said. “The Greeley beef plant has undergone numerous audits, safety inspections and reviews by federal, state and local health authorities. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently toured the facility and offered no suggested changes or opportunities for improvement to our COVID-19 preventive measures.”