Colorado meat plant, site of coronavirus outbreak, reopening

FILE - In this April 8, 2020, file photo, a truck bearing Weld County insignia sits outside the administrative office entrance at JBS USA in Greeley, Colo. The major meatpacking plant in Colorado was closed because of the coronavirus but is set to reopen Friday, April 24, 2020, after disinfecting the facility over the last two weeks, even as some question how workers will be able to maintain social distancing to curb the spread of the disease. The plant in Greeley was closed April 11 after health officials in Weld County cited the close proximity of workers to each other and employees working while they were sick as factors in the outbreak./The Greeley Tribune via AP)

JBS USA announced it would give $5 million to the city of Greeley in an effort to help the city respond to needs that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as invest in the community’s future. 

This donation is part of a national $50 million initiative led by JBS USA called Hometown Strong, a program aimed at aiding communities across multiple states by strengthening community infrastructure, assisting in COVID-19 emergency response and relief, and alleviating food insecurity, according to their website. The organization has partnered with local officials and community leaders in Greeley to determine what is most needed. 

“We take great pride in feeding millions of American families every day,” said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO, in a recent release. “We play an essential role in our local community and in maintaining the nation’s food supply, but we also embrace the important role we have to be a good neighbor. Colorado has faced a tremendous challenge during this pandemic, and we hope our investment can help ensure that our hometown remains strong.”

This cash flow to the community comes after the JBS plant in Greeley was the site of a massive outbreak, which resulted in hundreds of confirmed cases and six deaths. 

In a statement the United Food and Commercial Workers local 7, an affiliate of the UFCW International, said that initiative will not make up for the company’s “disregard for the safety of its essential workers.”

Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said in the statement that while JBS claims its workers are essential, they treat them as disposable. 

“Today’s announcement is another smoke-and-mirrors attempt to distract from the company’s failure to protect its workers and buy time as it plans to further burden JBS Greeley workers by increasing their healthcare premiums by more than 30% — that is an approximate increase of $800 a year per family member,” Cordova said in the statement.

Cordova added that UFCW continues to demand JBS do more to protect its workers with the inclusion of access to high-quality PPE and “real testing,” enhanced safety measures, removal of policies that promote a “work while sick” culture and provide paid sick leave and hourly hazard pay for workers. 

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