GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – The union that represents JBS employees in Greeley has filed two complaints against the company alleging direct dealings with employees and workplace safety violations. Last week, JBS employees walked off the job over a pay dispute.
UFCW Local 7 met with JBS on Monday to discuss the possibility of a resolution. In a letter to JBS on Wednesday, Union President Kim Cordova said members want hazard pay, an additional $2.00 per hour and a safer work environment.
Cordova claims JBS met individually with union members at the plant to discuss contract negotiations. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, stating direct dealings violate the National Labor Relations Act.
A spokesperson for JBS told CBS4 the company has agreed to increase wages at all of its beef and pork facilities across the United States. The offer increases base pay to $18 per hour, with top rates of nearly $25 per hour.
JBS employees told CBS4 that a pay raise was supposed to be immediate but instead it is being spread out over several years.
“We are hopeful the local union will allow for a democratic vote on the offered increase so that our Greeley beef team members and their families can benefit from the extra pay that JBS USA plants across the country have overwhelmingly approved and currently enjoy,” JBS said in a statement to CBS4.
UFCW Local 7 has also filed a complaint with OSHA over working conditions at the plant. Cordova claims management is not wearing PPE, social distancing is not being observed and COVID-19 testing is not offered on a daily basis.
JBS has reported six deaths and 286 cases of COVID-19 at the Greeley plant since the pandemic began.
The union claims employees are not given regular breaks and a number of people have fainted at the plant due to high temperatures. Cordova also raised concern about adequate drinking water at the plant.
“With temperatures soaring outside, which exacerbates temperatures within the plant, inadequate sources of clean drinking water are a health and safety issue,” said Cordova. “Our members have been forced to drink from bathroom taps and shower heads to alleviate their thirst, or from open jugs of Gatorade – with no provision for paper or plastic cups which can be discarded.”
A spokesperson for JBS said the company has implemented $100 million in safety interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has paid team members a $600 bonus along with a six-week $4 per hour bonus. The company is also offering a $1,500 bonus to be paid through the end of the year.
Cordova said the $1,500 bonus promotes a “work while sick and no speak up culture” in the plant. She claims the eligibility requirements are in conflict with NIOSH, CDC and OSHA recommendations and standards.