Meatpacker JBS will provide COVID-19 vaccines to 8,500 workers across its facilities in eight states, announced this company this week.
The meat processing and Pilgrim’s chicken production facilities are located in all across the USA including, Illinois, Mississippi, Texas and Nebraska. Depending on reported cases, some locations will get a set number of vaccines every day, whilst other locations will be subject to large-scale vaccination clinics.
A company spokesperson said, “We have been focused on doing everything we can to prioritize our essential workforce across the country.” Around 700 workers at a Beardstown, Illinois, pork production plant who got a first dose of the vaccine this month will receive the second dose of the vaccine in March, the company said.
JBS, the world’s largest meat processor and second-largest food company, said it would offer a $100 bonus to workers who receive the COVID-19 vaccine in January. Meatpacking plants have been among the most devastating workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic, with the cramped working conditions and lack of consequential federal oversight leading to thousands of COVID-19 infections and hundreds of deaths. Big-name meat industry giants like Tyson, JBS, and Smithfield have faced lawsuits about the pandemic.
Last year, the JBS plant in Greely became the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the Rocky Mountain State, with the Colorado Department of Health listing 291 confirmed cases and six deaths there as of Sept. 23. On February 1, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation into COVID-19 infections and the outbreaks in meatpacking plants that resulted in the deaths of 250 workers.
This month, Minnesota lawmakers and members of the state’s United Food and Commercial Workers Union introduced new workplace safety legislation to protect workers inside meatpacking and food processing plants.
The legislation would require companies to provide workers with paid leave to recover from illness or care for a sick family member.