Tyson Foods Fires Seven Managers At Waterloo Plant
Seven managers at Tyson Foods' pork plant in Waterloo have been fired following an independent investigation into allegations they took bets on how many workers would get COVID-19.
Company officials announced the terminations Wednesday, nearly one month after the supervisors were suspended from their jobs without pay. In a press release, Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks said the company's decision to fire the managers was based on the investigation's findings.
“We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” Banks said. “The behaviors exhibited by these individuals do not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth. Now that the investigation has concluded, we are taking action based on the findings.”
The accusations are part of an amended lawsuit filed in April by the family of Isidro Fernandez, one of five Waterloo workers who died of COVID-19 complications after being exposed to the virus at the plant. The lawsuit also alleges that local supervisors ordered sick workers to stay on the job.
Upon learning of the allegations, Tyson Foods hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the company's internal investigation. According to the press release, Banks and other Tyson executives traveled to Waterloo in November and again Wednesday to meet with plant workers and community leaders.
“The commitment and passion that our team members exhibit every day is core to who we are at Tyson. We were very upset to learn of the behaviors found in the allegations, as we expect our leaders to treat all team members with the highest levels of respect and integrity,” Banks stated. “That’s why we have asked former Attorney General Eric Holder and his team to partner with Tyson to help us as we continue to look for ways to enhance a trusting and respectful workplace.”
The Waterloo plant is Tyson's largest pork-processing facility, employing around 2,800 people. In April, nearly 200 of Black Hawk County's 374 COVID-19 cases were linked to an outbreak at the plant.
Tyson idled operations in Waterloo for two weeks in April after local and state officials visited the plant. They successfully pushed for the shutdown to allow employees to be tested and crews to deep clean the facility to combat the outbreak.