GREELEY, COLO. – JBS USA front-line workers will be given the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the company’s Greeley plant March 5 and 6, the company said. Officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 7 said approximately 3,000 union members as well as thousands of non-union members will have access to the vaccine. Vaccinations are scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. each day and officials anticipate health care providers will administer as many as 350 vaccines per hour. To maximize participation, JBS said it will halt operations at the facility for the two days scheduled for vaccinations and provide four hours of pay for employees who volunteer to receive the vaccine.
“We anticipate high participation rates for our Colorado workforce, which includes team members from our Greeley value-added beef facility, our Greeley transportation business, our Denver value-added facility, and our Greeley beef facility,” the company said in a Feb. 24 statement. The company has already vaccinated employees over the age of 65 and occupational health employees at the Greeley facility.
On Jan. 21, the company announced it would also pay a $100 bonus to employees of JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. who voluntarily receive a vaccine. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s have implemented worker safety protocols and interventions over the past year to protect employees, an investment it claims has totaled more than $200 million.
“Our goal in offering this extra pay to our team members is to remove any barriers to vaccination and incentivize our team members to protect themselves, their families and their coworkers,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive officer of JBS USA, when announcing the incentive. “With nearly 66,000 US team members, we are hopeful this initiative will lead to high vaccination participation rates that will benefit our workforce and the rural communities and cities in which they live and work across America.”
The company vaccinated about 700 front-line workers at its Beardstown, Ill. Plant on Feb. 12.
“Nearly one year since the first outbreak at the JBS Greeley plant the union has succeeded in securing vaccine access for the thousands of its essential workers,” said Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7. “Every single day these hardworking employees, including our 3,000 members, make sure our nation’s food supply never falters — even when communities shut down.”
Cordova emphasized the importance of the company to continue taking steps needed to protect workers after vaccinations have been administered.
“Even after vaccination, it will be critical that JBS implement proper safety protocols to protect their workers who are still at high risk of contracting the virus. Local 7 continues to call on JBS to slow down line speeds to allow for proper social distancing, provide adequate PPE, end the ‘work-while-sick’ culture, and provide accessible and affordable health care,” she said. “We thank Governor Polis and the National Guard for their partnership with the union to bring resources directly to the JBS Greeley workers.”