LOGANSPORT — An employee at the Logansport, Indiana Tyson Foods plant said the measures put in place by the company to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were “too late to have an impact.”
The plant closed from April 25 to May 10 while the company tested all its employees and instituted new cleaning and social distancing procedures. Nearly 900 of the plants 2,200 employees were infected with COVID-19.
Dennis Medbourn, an employee at the plant, spoke about the company at a press conference with his union, UFCW.
He said the company installed clear plexiglass shelves between workers, assigned people to clean surfaces, mandated social distancing during breaks, and distributed washable masks for employees.
Medbourn said the safety measures could’ve been put in place a lot sooner.
“By the time most of these things were done, it was too late to have an impact,” he said. “If it had been sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten sick. There are still people in the plant that are at risk of getting it, which means there are still people coming into work every day in fear.”
He said the union negotiated with Tyson for additional pay of $30 per shift, but not every employee gets it. Melbourn said while there have been improvements in plant safety, there is still work to be done.
Medbourn called for Tyson to test every meat packing worker and to slow down line speeds until a vaccine is available. He also wants Tyson to be more transparent about when its employees test positive for COVID-19.
“Tyson is not sharing information publicly or here with us team members about anybody else being sick or testing positive,” he said. “They’re being pretty hush hush about it, unfortunately. We all feel like we have the right to know if you’re working next to a coworker that has it or something else.”
Tyson Foods released the following statement:
At Tyson, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their families and our communities.
Since the creation of our internal coronavirus task force in mid-January, we have implemented many measures to protect the health and safety of our team members. This included temporarily relaxing our attendance policy to encourage those who were not feeling well to stay home.
We have collaborated with government and public health officials to put in place enhanced safety precautions and installed protective social distancing measures that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance. These include:
· Conducting wellness health screening of all team members each time they arrive at the facility, checking for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath in addition to continuing to check team members’ temperatures.
· The supply of protective facial coverings to every team member and requiring they are worn.
· Workstation dividers installed and the use of face shields for team members where barriers cannot physically be implemented.
· Additional dedicated social distance monitors stationed throughout the facility during all shifts to help ensure team members adhere to safety protocols and social distancing requirements.
Since we worked with health officials to conduct facility-wide testing of our Logansport back in April we’ve seen significant improvement. We are aware of no positive cases of any team member currently working in our facility. Any team member who has tested positive will remain on sick leave until they’ve satisfied official health requirements for return to work and we currently have very few cases. If a positive case is identified, any team member who was determined to be in close contact is notified and a health assessment completed.