Slaughterhouse Offered Staff $500 To Work Amid COVID-19 Workplace Outbreak

by | April 14, 2020

Pork brand Smithfield Foods reportedly offered staff $500 to come to work every day in April despite many falling sick with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

While the brand’s slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has since announced an indefinite closure, Argus Leader reports that the “responsibility bonus” was offered prior, a move which offended members of Smithfield’s staff.

slaughterhouse worker
Some employees were offended by the offer (Aleksandar Malivuk/Shutterstock.com)

“They Don’t Care”

“I’m not a fool,” said one employee. “Five hundred dollars isn’t worth our lives.”

“I feel like they’re bribing us with money to come to work sick,” said another. “That’s how you know they don’t care, because they’re forcing people to come to work.”

“People are forcing themselves to come to work even when they’re sick.”

At this time, hundreds of the facility’s 3,700 employees are suffering from confirmed cases of coronavirus.

COVID-19 coronavirus masks
Kooper Caraway says Smithfield didn’t act fast enough (sunfe/Shutterstock.com)

“Management Drug Its Feet”

Kooper Caraway, president of the Sioux Falls branch of The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, which represents local unions, says Smithfield is to blame for the scale of the outbreak.

“Because management drug its feet and didn’t act quickly, that’s why it’s a hot spot,” he said

”And we’re seeing the cases go up every day. No matter what the latest numbers are, I promise you there’s more than that.”

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beef in meat industry factory
The meat industry is reportedly struggling in the face of COVID-19 (El Nariz/Shutterstock.com)

COVID-19 & The Meat Industry

One Smithfield higher-up has said that this major closure has pushed the meat industry “perilously close” to collapse.

Pork, beef and poultry brands have all reported taking a hit as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The dairy industry has also faltered, with farmers reporting significant waste as they find themselves oversupplied.


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