Perdue Farms employees protest over COVID-19 concerns

Approximately 50 workers walked off the job at the Perdue Farms plant in Kathleen, Georgia Monday morning over concerns about working conditions and pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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(travelarium | Bigstock.com)
(travelarium | Bigstock.com)

Approximately 50 workers briefly walked off the job at the Perdue Farms plant in Kathleen, Georgia Monday morning over concerns about working conditions and pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're not getting nothing – no type of compensation, no nothing, not even no cleanliness, no extra pay – no nothing. We're up here risking our life for chicken," employee Kendaliyn Granville told WMAZ.

Other employees cited concerns that people still working on the production line said they had been exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, Granville said that the bathrooms are dirty and there is still food on the floor when she comes into work in the morning despite claims that all facilities were sanitized daily.

After Houston County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene, the group dispersed.

Perdue’s response

In an e-mailed statement to WATT Global Media, Perdue said:

"We know that many are feeling anxious during these uncertain times and we’re doing everything we can to take good care of our Associates while continuing to produce safe and reliable food. 

We have put additional Associate-recognition programs in place to increase pay for a set time period for our hourly Associates, and are providing them bonuses two months early.

In addition, we’d already proactively implemented a number of preventative measures to protect the health of our Associates, including increased sanitation and cleaning (above and beyond the full sanitization that all of our facilities receive every 24 hours), and encouraging Associates to stay home if they are not feeling well or think they may have been exposed to the virus. We have extended the hours of many of the onsite Wellness Centers at our facilities, which are available to all Associates and their families free of charge. Importantly, we are also working to make our paid leave policies even more flexible during this time to be responsive and provide added relief to Associates.

We are tremendously grateful to everyone in the food supply chain, including our dedicated Associates, who are working tirelessly to ensure the continuation of food production across the country – and globally – to keep people fed as the world grapples with and recovers from this significant challenge."

Labor concerns threaten food supply chain

Some North American meat processors have announced bonuses to farmers and slaughterhouse workers who have been asked to continue to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple poultry producers, including Perdue, say they plan to ramp up retail processing to meet the needs of supermarkets with empty shelves.

The National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF) have both expressed concern that the ongoing labor shortage in the poultry industry could worsen due the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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