DENVER (AP) — A union representing workers at a Colorado meatpacking plant where six workers died of COVID-19 and hundreds more were infected will stage a protest Wednesday, claiming that federal officials should have fined the company more for its alleged failure to provide safe working conditions.
The JBS USA-owned plant in Greeley was issued a $15,615 fine on Sept. 11 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has called the fine for the multi-billion dollar company “insulting” and “ineffectual” but JBS has labeled the fine as excessive.
OSHA said JBS Foods Inc. in Greeley — operating as Swift Beef Co. — failed to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. The fine followed a plant inspection in May and is the maximum allowed by law, OSHA has said.
JBS failed to protect workers from getting sick and didn’t adequately compensate them for working under the risk of contracting the virus, the union said in a statement. At least 290 workers at the plant, including some supervisors, tested positive for COVID-19, the Colorado health department has said.
JBS did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the union statement.
The union’s Local 7, which represents about 3,000 workers at the plant, asked co-workers and relatives of those who died and were infected to protest Wednesday afternoon outside OSHA’s Denver offices.