JBS meatpacking plant employees share concerns amidst virus spike

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HYRUM, Utah (ABC4 News) – Several JBS staff members returned to work Monday after having to quarantine since testing positive for COVID-19. ABC4’S Jordan Verdadeiro spoke with employees on their concerns since the recent spike at the meat plant.

“If they would have just shut the company down for two weeks and did a deep cleaning and then after that everyone comes back, but they decided to keep it open,” said an employee who will go by Maria.

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The recent COVID-19 spike at the JBS meatpacking plant in Hyrum is something that could have been prevented, she said.

“They’re going to keep it open, I mean, regardless of what happens,” said Maria.

She says many employees are anxious after testing positive and they don’t know where to turn.

“Last week we worked three days out of the week, I guess people were protesting because they were only going to get paid 32 hours and they wanted to get paid the 40 hours,” she added.

Maria says several employees need to continue working despite their test results and symptoms. She says those who tested negative after the spike aren’t getting paid unless they show up at the plant to work.

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“They’re scared to lose their job, there’s a problem, they’re just scared,” said Maria.

JBS employees told me this parking lot is usually full and even though many returned to work today after being quarantined, many are still sick at home.

“Some of us is still working throughout this and what happened, and we’re putting our families and us, at risk,” said Maria.

For a short period of time, Maria says they were being compensated for the current work conditions.

“They gave us a raise, for like $19, we had it for like two months, two months and a half I believe, then they took it back and we’re getting paid like before,” she said.

Maria says employees want a raise, for the unsafe conditions they are put in during the pandemic and now the aftermath of the virus outbreak. She says JBS has given employees masks and gloves, but social distancing is not happening.

We reached out to JBS for comment, but they haven’t returned our calls.

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