Worker advocates: JBS trying to force union’s hand with long-term contract offer
- Worker advocates are reporting that JBS is trying to work around the union that represents about 3,000 of its Greeley beef plant workers by lobbying employees directly on a long-term contract.
- According to Kim Cordova, if workers are persuaded to push the union to vote on the near-term pay raise, it would mean a five-year contract that would cost employees more in the long term.
- Essentially, JBS is attempting to con workers directly into a bad salary deal at a particularly vulnerable time.
- Latino Coalition of Weld County vice president Rhonda Solis, said a concerning element that came out of discussions with JBS on Monday was the company’s plans to provide an onside medical clinic for employees.
- Solis stated that when the coronavirus outbreak hit back in late March and early April, the union and herself were only made aware of the high number of cases coming out of the processing facility because the hospital made calls and voiced their concerns.
- If JBS has a clinic within the facility, they will have the ability to keep even more information hushed about the wellbeing of their employees when it comes to coronavirus infections.
- Whether JBS meant to conceal the extent and speed of the spread of the virus in late March and early April from its employees and the outside world isn’t clear. Either way, it did take county and state involvement to require a temporary closure.
- During the meeting with JBS on Monday, union members told horrific stories about the current conditions at the plant with included a continuation of the ‘work while sick culture’, workers being forced to drink water from unsanitary sources, a female worker being physically assaulted by a supervior, just to name a few, according to Cordova.
- “Nothing is holding JBS back from paying their workers more right now,” said Solis. She went on to say they were doing it with hazard pay originally, but they took that away. JBS is presenting the situation as the union standing in the way of workers receiving an increase in wages.
USDA revives RFID initiative
- USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced earlier this week that is seeking public comment on a proposal to approve only Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags for cattle moving interstate.
- Last November, APHIS released a statement saying that they believe RFID devices will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases. The tags will also meet the expectations of foreign and domestic buyers.
- APHIS is seeking comment on a proposed timeline for implementation, which would require producers to use the tags by January 1st, 2023.
- Animals with metal tags in place before that date would be grandfathered into the regulations and would not require RFID tags.
- USDA’s announcement came with opposition by R-CALF. RCALF’s Animal Identification Committee Chair Kenny Fox said that this is not the time for the USDA to be imposing significant added production costs on the U.S. cattle industry while the entire domestic cattle and beef supply chains are reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
Boxed Beef Prices
- Choice boxed beef: $200.76 (-0.16)
- Select boxed beef: $191.37 (+0.52)