Hormel offers $500 Covid-19 bonus to steady workers

Up to $7 million will be paid in bonuses to “team members who continue to produce food during the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Hormel Foods on Thursday. The money will be paid during the first week of July to employees at Hormel’s meat and processed food plants and would follow a $4 million bonus paid in April.

“To date, out of more than 30 production facilities, the majority are unaffected by Covid-19,” said the company, which is based in Austin, Minnesota. Hormel, which makes band-name foods ranging from peanut butter to salsa and Spam, said it has spent millions of dollars on safety measures at its plants. Workers “impacted by Covid-19” get their full base pay and benefits, it said.

In a 15-page memo released on Thursday, the CDC said poor communication between supervisors and workers speaking many languages at the Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was among the reasons the facility became a coronavirus hot spot, reported NBC News. Although about 40 languages are spoken at the plant, workers were given a packet written in English if they showed symptoms of coronavirus infection.

The CDC recommended that Smithfield take several steps at the Sioux Falls plant, which employs 3,700 people, including installing more hand sanitizer stations and speeding up the installation of plexiglass barriers between workstations. “A combination of control measures with ongoing education and training will be useful in reducing or eliminating transmission in the workplace,” said the CDC. Smithfield said it would carefully examine the report.

Meanwhile, a labor union said Koch Foods “has taken a clear anti-worker” stance and has refused to discuss safety measures or say how many coronavirus infections have been found at its plants. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union represents thousands of workers at four Koch poultry processing plants in Alabama and Georgia.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union said that 13 workers at meat and food processing plants have died and that more than 5,000 have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus since the pandemic began.