Workers at NC Smithfield Foods plant concerned after COVID-19 outbreak shutters SD plant

Local News

TAR HEEL, N.C. (WNCN) — As a COVID-19 outbreak shuts down a Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota, CBS 17 is looking into how the Smithfield plants in our area are responding. 

It’s a balance for the food service industry right now, trying to make sure employees don’t get sick, while at the same time keeping grocery stores stocked with food.

“We work very closely together,” says an employee at the plant in Tar Heel, who doesn’t want to be identified. 

She’s worked at the plant for three years and says she doesn’t feel safe working right now, especially after hearing about the outbreak at her company’s plant in South Dakota

“That’s a big concern for us even though they’re probably not going to shut us down, you have to have so many cases for them to shut us down, but I really don’t see that happening,” the worker said.

She thinks more can be done to help protect employees from getting sick. 

“Something needs to be done. I’m kind of scared to go to work, but I have to work I have to support my family,” she said.

Another employee showed us a mask she was given to wear at work.

“Some people are wearing masks, but they didn’t give them to us,” one worker said.

The union down the street declined an interview with us about this. 

When we asked the company what’s being done to protect employees, they sent a link to a page featuring a video with president and CEO Ken Sullivan, thanking their 40,000 team members for their work.

“We remain committed to our employees during this time, and we are implementing many changes to assist our team members,” Sullivan said. 

The company says those changes include more protective gear, more sanitizing stations, paid time off if you need to be in quarantine, and a $500 bonus for hourly production and distribution center employees.

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