In their neverending attempt to cement their reputation as America’s Worst Company, Tyson Foods continues to break new ground. A recent lawsuit filed by Tyson employees alleges plant managers at a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, pooled their money in a winner-take-all bet to guess how many of their employees would get Covid-19. It looks like some supervisors missed the culture-building retreat. Nothing like a game of coronavirus bingo.
Tyson Foods has a long history of abusing its employees, who are often poor immigrants. They frequently don’t have a choice not to go to work as they may lack skills, live paycheck to paycheck, and need a job to remain in the country.
Tyson eventually closed several slaughterhouses after thousands of their employees contracted the coronavirus, and dozens died. The lawsuit alleges about 1,000 employees at the Waterloo plant got the virus, killing five of them. Imagine the frustration of the plant managers who had picked a number well above 1,000. If only the plant could have stayed open a few more weeks.
Now Tyson has the distinction of killing 2,000 hogs per day and employees at the Waterloo plant. Perhaps a new plant manager wager could involve guessing the hogs to humans death toll ratio.
Ironically, the Tyson employees’ lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering. The building placard should read, “Pain and Suffering.” The suit also seeks damages for loss of income and “incorrigible, willful, and wanton disregard for workplace safety.” The allegations come as no surprise as Tyson has a long history of disregarding workplace safety.
Employees further allege that Tyson managers misinformed them about the pandemic’s nature and the severity of its risks. They also contend supervisors required them to work long hours in cramped conditions without the necessary protective gear.
Republicans want to protect companies like Tyson Foods.
To ensure they aren’t held legally responsible for failing to keep their employees safe, Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) signed a bill into law that shields corporations from coronavirus lawsuits. The law protects them even if they force their employees to report to work and don’t provide proper protective equipment or social distancing in workspaces.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Republicans in Congress have refused to pass a stimulus bill unless it contains federal protections for corporations from coronavirus lawsuits. Americans can always count on Republicans to look out for their wealthy corporate donors.
Consumers should reject Tyon’s sordid record on human and animal rights by not buying their products. Here’s a list of better options for Thanksgiving.
Voters didn’t need a reminder to help Democrats win the Senate in the Georgia runoff, but Tyson Foods served up yet another good reason. Republicans defend the white, wealthy, corrupt, and privileged; Democrats fight for the working class. If Democrats strip Mitch McConnell of his power, they can create more safeguards to protect workers from these abuses. Bet on it.