GUYMON, OKLA. – The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2 recently filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accusing Seaboard Foods of disregarding safety measures and not protecting workers from COVID-19 at its Guymon, Okla., pork processing plant.
Seaboard refuted the charges by UFCW and said it continues to follow local and federal guidelines for protecting its employees during the pandemic.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our communities, Seaboard Foods continues to adapt to ensure our Guymon, Okla., pork processing plant remains a safe place to work while producing much-needed food for tables across our communities and the country,” the company said in a statement. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help protect our employees while still working to meet our commitment as an essential business.”
The company went onto say that 1,014 current and former employees tested positive for COVID-19 and six people died in 2020 after contracting the virus.
Seaboard also said 933 plant workers have voluntarily received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far.
Specific accusations UFCW made in its complaint against Seaboard include failure to establish physical distancing on the processing line, during breaks and lunches, in locker rooms and during carpooling.
"UFCW has repeatedly asked Seaboard to implement common sense measures to ensure physical distancing in the plant to no avail,” Martin Rosas, UFCW Local 2 president, said in an email. “The company could stagger shifts and breaks to reduce the crowding in hallways, break rooms, and on the lines, but instead they continue to put profit before people. We also call on OSHA to investigate this complaint, take immediate action, and release emergency temporary standards as directed by the President’s Executive Order to increase worker safety so they can be implemented immediately.”
The union also said Seaboard did not report COVID-19 related deaths and illnesses on OSHA 300A Postings and failed to modify leave programs to ensure employees are not penalized for taking sick leave.
Lastly, UFCW said the pork producer is no longer encouraging exposed workers to quarantine.