Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods has fired seven managers at an Iowa pork plant after investigating allegations they bet on how many workers there would get sick from the coronavirus.

The company, one of the country's largest meat suppliers, launched an independent investigation into the complaints last month, suspending without pay the managers allegedly involved. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder led the investigation.

USDA/Alice Welch.

A study published Thursday in a prestigious scientific journal links significant increases in COVID-19 transmission rates to meatpacking plants, especially those facilities that the federal government has allowed to speed up processing lines.

USDA/Alice Welch.

  Tyson Foods sought and received federal permission to increase the operating speed at poultry processing plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana even as public health officials reported dozens of coronavirus cases among Tyson workers. Now, a union representing workers at meatpacking plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana is one of several plaintiffs suing the federal government over waivers that allowed Tyson Foods and other companies to operate faster.

China is halting the import of poultry from a Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas following an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the facility.

The nation's General Administration of Customs office made the announcement on Sunday, saying shipments from the plant would be temporarily suspended, while products that have already arrived will be seized.

The past few months have weighed heavily on Edgar Fields. He has been meeting with workers at chicken processing plants across Georgia and in nearby states. His union represents them, and many have become sick. Some have died.

"You know, you lay in the bed and you can't sleep because stuff is on your mind? I've got to do this. I've got to do that," he says. "That's what I wake up in every morning thinking, 'What can I do to protect my members to where they have a safe work environment to go to?' "

Liam Niemeyer via Zoom video

 It’s the uncertainty that gets to Darlene Davis. The uncertainty of when she’ll see her 87-year-old mother in person again. The uncertainty of her co-workers’ health. The uncertainty that comes with the novel coronavirus.

 

When a co-worker of hers at the JBS Swift meatpacking plant in Louisville died from COVID-19, she said that uncertainty turned into fear for many of the 1,200 employees at the plant.