LOGAN- Nearly 60 employees of JBS, the meat packing plant in Hyrum, gathered in front of the Historic Cache County Courthouse along Main Street on Tuesday to protest their employer and what they consider as meager efforts to curb COVID-19 in the workplace.
“We met with JBS management in their parking lot this morning and told them we wanted them to shut down the plant for a week and sanitize it and make it safe,” said a man who wanted to remain anonymous. “And we want to be paid for time they were out.”
He said there were nearly 300 positive cases of COVID-19 at JBS and there could be more if they don’t close the facility down.
Some of the crowd said they had been working for the meat plant for 13 years, others 10 years, and some less than one year.
Motorists honked in support of the protesters.
“We were told to go back to work even if we have been tested and haven’t got our results back,” the man said. “They care more about making money than they do about their workers.”
The Hyrum facility employs over 1,400 workers with a large number of them from Latin-American countries.
JBS spokesman Cameron Bruett said the company has tried to enhance their sanitation efforts, increasing telework options and heightened health protocols. They have increased worker benefits to protect the health and well-being of their employees.
The international company has had several other facilities close for a short time to clean and sanitize the work areas.
Nikki Richardson, a spokesperson for JBS, said that the health and safety of their team members remains the company’s highest priority. They have implemented a wide of range of measures to combat COVID-19 in the Hyrum facility.
“We recently partnered with the Utah Department of Health to provide mandatory testing of our Hyrum workforce,” Richardson said. “We are following CDC guidance to quarantine all team members who have tested positive, the facility is operating at reduced capacity this week and we are conducting additional deep cleaning.”
JBS is coordinating with the local health department and public health officials to determine the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep the virus out of the plant.
“We are following all CDC and OSHA issued guidance around safety and social distancing, and we’re doing everything possible to provide a safe working environment for our team members who are providing food for us all during these unprecedented times,” Richardson said.