Perry’s Tyson head praises workers, Perry, own virus response

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Editor’s note — The plant manager of Tyson Fresh Meats in Perry issued a letter Thursday to the people of Perry. Plant Manager Mike Grothe has been the plant manager in Perry since 2014. The letter was sent to the protein corporation’s Gannett-Gatehouse media partners in Perry. The letter reads as follows:

To the people of Perry:

Often as we live our daily lives, we don’t slow down enough to recognize where we live and what makes our community great. The work happening daily by the hard-working people in our Tyson Foods plant here in Perry is remarkable. Everyday hard-working moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles are showing up at our plant to provide not just our community with food, but the country.

I am the plant manager for the Tyson Foods Perry plant. I have the privilege of working with more than 1,300 people at Perry, many who have worked here as part of our tight knit family for years. I am honored to be part of this team and the work we’re doing. These people are the heroes that continue to feed America.

COVID-19 has disrupted our communities and forced changes on all of us — important changes designed to help keep us safe. I ask myself every day: how do I help keep these people safe? How do we — a major employer and an essential business — operate in the best interest of our workers and consumers?

We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country and keeping thousands employed. We check worker temperatures and require they wear protective face coverings. We’ve implemented social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and barriers in our breakrooms. We sanitize our facilities daily and have increased sanitizing for frequently touched surfaces such as doors and tables while encouraging frequent and increased hand washing. In March, we relaxed our attendance policy to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick, and we continue to remind them to follow CDC guidelines at home as well as at work.

Our team members have mandatory health care coverage, and we’ve made changes by waiving a five-consecutive-day waiting period for Short Term Disability benefits so employees can receive pay while they’re sick with the flu or COVID-19. In addition, we’re waiving the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps. We’ve waived co-pays for the use of telemedicine and are relaxing refill limits for 30-day prescriptions of maintenance medication.

No one should be fearful to go to work. Because our plants are already focused on the importance of food safety, we have always kept the environments within them clean through strict sanitary processes. During this time, we are increasing the frequency of and enhancing those processes even more. When coupled with all the other things we are doing in our plants, I truly believe they’re one of the safest places a person can be. I want everyone in this community to know we are committed to maintaining a safe working environment in our Perry facility.

I’m so proud of this workforce and the people coming into the plant every day who are making protein possible for everyone. And thank you to the people of Perry for supporting us and the work we’re doing during these difficult times. We will get through this together.

Mike Grothe, Perry Plant Manager
Tyson Foods

1 COMMENT

  1. “encouraging employees to stay home when they are ill”…..seriously???

    Absolutely ridiculous response to the COVID-19 virus from Tyson Foods in Perry. After the initial outbreak in Columbus Junction, including two deaths, the company should have learned and implemented prevention measures far ahead of the first confirmed positive cases at each plant. Once you have one known positive employee in working conditions such as a meat processing plant, there are soon hundreds more. It was too late.

    BEFORE this community and high risk facility had one positive staff member, Tyson staff knew what happened in Columbus Junction. They should have had mandatory masking, spread out the production line (yes, reduced capacity and production) and provided hand sanitizer at every turn. By waiting until you were well into having positive cases, you did essentially nothing.

    Additionally, when employees have ANY symptoms of this extremely contagious virus, they should have been ENCOURAGED to stay home and away from their loved ones and others in the community. This did not happen. Tyson Foods in Perry insisted that their employees work despite feeling ill. There are many staff who felt ill and if they didn’t have a fever (only ONE of many symptoms), they were told they should work. I realize that there is an economical disaster at hand here, but this inhumane response to a public and industrial health crisis is appalling. The lack of knowledge about this illness and lack of preventive measures for spread is inexcusable. I understand that the leaders of the Perry plant are simply puppets of the corporation, but for goodness sake, stand up for your people!

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