WASHINGTON – Officials with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) announced on July 17 that its representatives, including Domingo Garcia, national president, met with executive and operational leaders of Tyson Foods Inc., in Springdale, Ark., in what is planned to be the first in a series of face-to-face meetings to find out what the company is doing to protect workers at its processing plants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Garcia and the LULAC team met first with Noel White, Tyson’s chief executive officer, who discussed the operational precautions Tyson has implemented to prevent the spread of the virus among workers and planned changes based on new information and findings about COVID-19.
During the meeting, Garcia outlined demands LULAC is making on behalf of workers, including: free, regular COVID-19 testing; availability of adequate personal protection equipment; compensation for infected workers; labor adjustments and line speed; and assistance made to the families of workers who died due to the virus. Garcia and his team also toured one of Tyson’s nearby chicken processing plants in Springdale.
“The enemy here is the coronavirus,” Garcia said. “So, we traveled to the headquarters of Tyson Foods to make it clear to the company that nothing is more important to LULAC than worker safety. Then, we went inside one of their biggest plants in the country ourselves, to observe firsthand and talk to employees to find out what the company is doing to fight the virus that is infecting Juan y Maria, our nation’s essential workers in the meatpacking industry.”
Tyson officials demonstrated precautions being made at its plants during the tour, including screening employees prior to entry, social distancing markers, cleaning protocols, multi-lingual signage, mandatory mask policies and touchless hand washing and sanitation stations.
Other precautions being implemented include on-site COVID-19 testing and health support, contact tracing, development of ventilated masks, over $100 million in bonus pay and provisions for hunger relief.
With the goal of finding out what the company is doing to protect workers, LULAC officials came away from the Tyson visit with a positive response and Garcia lauded the company’s efforts.
“What we have seen confirms Tyson is making significant changes and investments to improve worker safety and America’s food supply,” he said. “LULAC will work with Tyson Foods and other meat processing companies that are taking every possible step to protect their employees. Our joint goal needs to be helping save as many people as possible from COVID-19. We are going to do what LULAC has done for 91 years: get the job done.”