Fifth Greeley meat plant employee dies from COVID-19, union receives Cease and Desist letter from JBS

Coronavirus

GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — Kim Cordova, President of UFCW Local 7, which represents 3,000 workers at the JBS meat processing plant in Greeley, says the union received a Cease and Desist letter from JBS on Friday.

The letter says in part:

“Despite the importance of working together in this difficult time, it has come to the Company’s attention that the Local continues to engage in various activities designed to obtain – by means other than the grievance and arbitration process – outcomes governed by the CBA. In addition to the Local’s outright encouragement of unlawful self-help, we are aware of additional statements to the media and directly to
employees subverting and otherwise violating express provisions of the CBA. In particular, it seems the Local has adopted a strategy of generating negative media attention and public opinion in an effort to unwind agreements made in the CBA and gain concessions from the Company as they relate to employee safety. These efforts, and the Local’s direct encouragement that employees withhold production clearly
violate the no-strike commitments set forth in the CBA, among other provisions. I write to demand that you and all other agents of the Local cease and desist this conduct immediately.”

UFCW Local 7 said that on Sunday another Greeley employee died due to COVID-19. Union member, Way Ler, was the latest victim to the virus.

Over 120 JBS employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 74 of those employees are UFCW Local Members.

According to a spokesperson with UFCW Local 7, two members of the union who work at JBS in Greeley were asymptomatic and ended up testing positive for COVID-19.

The employees were tested at the community site in Greeley and received the results over weekend.

Cordova issued the following statement on the JBS Cease and Desist letter to UFCW Local 7 on April 25:

“UFCW Local 7, our members, JBS and federal, state and local government have one common goal: to ensure that the JBS plant in Greeley is a safe place to work so it can resume business. However, UFCW Local 7 does not agree that the plant is safe at this time because all workers have not been tested for COVID-19, despite promises from Vice President Mike Pence stating he would ensure tests flow to the plant, as well as from Governor Jared Polis and JBS.

By reneging on this promise and opening the JBS plant up last week despite not testing every worker, Weld County will continue to be a COVID-19 hot spot in Colorado since many workers could be presently infected and asymptomatic, spreading coronavirus in the plant and the community.

UFCW Local 7 recognizes that the JBS plant is an important employer in the Greeley community and many of our families depend on the company’s success, but we will not stop advocating for the health, safety and wellbeing of our members. We owe it to the memory of our fallen members – Way Ler, who passed away today, and Saul Longoria Sanchez, Eduardo Conchas de la Cruz, and Tibursio Rivera López– to continue to seek additional safety measures at the JBS plant so no other family has to go through what these families are enduring.

The law is clear: the Union’s activities around safety, health and wellbeing of our members during an unprecedented global pandemic is part of our job and our Constitution, and any litigation seeking to silence the Union from its lawful and Constitutional efforts does not have legal standing.”

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