Tyson increases bonuses for workers, as report finds 890 with COVID-19

Officials call for plant to close over coronavirus cases

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Alice Mannette, Garden City Telegram
Published 11:48 a.m. ET May 1, 2020 | Updated 6:32 p.m. ET May 1, 2020

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President Donald Trump has declared that meatpacking plants are “critical infrastructure” in order to keep them open during coronavirus.

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Around 890 employees at a Tyson Foods pork-processing plant in Logansport, Indiana, have tested positive for COVID-19, a report from NBC News finds.

The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported that the Logansport plant had previously suspended operations for a single day, on April 20, for deep cleaning and sanitizing. 

But after reopening, it quickly closed again, with officials saying it would stay shuttered until all 2,200 workers were tested for the coronavirus and the company deemed the facility safe for workers.

Hli Yang, a spokeswoman for Tyson, declined to confirm the number who have tested positive for the virus to NBC News.

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday compelling companies like Tysons to reopen the shuttered plants amid growing fears of breaks in the food supply chain and shortages of household staples chicken, pork and beef.

Tyson increases bonuses for frontline workers

Along with this, Tyson Foods announced it is increasing bonuses and short-term disability coverage due to coronavirus. While other companies are increasing hourly rates, Tyson is using a bonus method to increase frontline employee salaries.

The company is now offering $120 million in “thank you bonuses” for 116,000 U.S. frontline workers and truckers. This increase in bonuses is up from the $60 million announced in early April. The company is moving up the first $500 bonus payment to early May. The second $500 bonus will be paid in July.

Team members who cannot come to work due to illness or child care will continue to qualify; however, bonus eligibility will depend on attendance.

“We understand that everyone, including our team members, is anxious during this challenging time,” said Liz Croston, spokeswoman for Tyson. “We believe information is the best tool for fighting the virus and so, we’re working to keep our team members informed and are also encouraging them to tell us what they’re experiencing, so we support them in the best possible way.”

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Tyson Foods is also increasing short-term disability coverage to 90% of regular pay until June 30 for team members who are unable to work due to illness. All company information is translated into several languages.

“We relaxed our attendance policy in March to encourage workers to stay at home when they’re sick,” Croston said. “We’ve also been educating team members on COVID-19, including the importance of following CDC guidelines away from work.”

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