An independent investigation into wagering allegations at Tyson Foods’ pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, has led to the termination of seven plant management employees. Last month, it was brought to the public’s attention that Tyson Foods suspended seven plant managers after a lawsuit alleged they were betting on how many employees would contract the coronavirus.
According to the complaint back in May, “The Black Hawk County Health Department has recorded more than 1,000 infections among Tyson employees — more than one third of the Tyson Waterloo workforce — and at least 5 workers have died.”
In addition to the gambling on employees contracting the coronavirus, the lawsuit alleged that most managers at the Waterloo facility started avoiding the plant floor because they were afraid of contracting the virus.
The Waterloo facility is Tyson’s largest pork processing facility, employing about 2,800 people, and the company as a whole processes a huge slice of the meat annually in the U.S. According to CNN’s reporting, the updated lawsuit stated that ” ‘most managers at the Waterloo Facility started avoiding the plant floor because they were afraid of contracting the virus’ in late March or early April. While the virus spread on the meatpacking floor, managers delegated their duties to ‘low-level supervisors with no management training or experience.’ “
Tyson Foods President & CEO Dean Banks said in a statement, “We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do. The behaviors exhibited by these individuals do not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth. Now that the investigation has concluded, we are taking action based on the findings.”
Upon learning of the allegations, Banks and others immediately traveled to Waterloo last month and again today to meet with Waterloo plant team members and community leaders to reinforce Tyson’s commitment to them and the community, including through:
- Opening more communication channels to hear team member voices
- Creating a working group of local community leaders to strengthen collaboration
- Reinforcing the importance of Tyson Foods’ core values and team behaviors
“The commitment and passion that our team members exhibit every day is core to who we are at Tyson. We were very upset to learn of the behaviors found in the allegations, as we expect our leaders to treat all team members with the highest levels of respect and integrity,” said Banks. “That’s why we have asked former Attorney General Eric Holder and his team to partner with Tyson to help us as we continue to look for ways to enhance a trusting and respectful workplace.”
However, back in April, Black Hawk County Sherriff Tony Thompson and Black Hawk County health officials visited the Waterloo facility to access the working conditions. According to Thompson, working conditions at the Waterloo facility “shook [him] to the core.” Workers were crowded elbow to elbow; most without face coverings.