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Food & Drink

Local Union Files COVID Safety Complaint Against Seaboard Foods In Guymon

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The local United Food and Commercial Workers union filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, arguing Seaboard Foods in Guymon, Okla., has failed to establish practices to protect its employees from COVID-19.

The union says the meatpacking plant failed to record and report work-related illness and implement safety protocols recommended by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The union listed hazards in the complaint filed April 5, including not implementing social distancing during lunch hour lines, locker rooms and during carpools, according to the OSHA complaint obtained by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

It also alleges that the company failed to modify policy to ensure employees are not penalized for taking sick leave and is no longer encouraging employees exposed to COVID to quarantine. OSHA has launched an investigation into the complaints.

Martin Rosas, the local union president, said employees are worried, and turnover is high at the plant in Guymon.

“They're concerned about their lives, they're concerned about their well being,” Rosas said. “The fact of no social distancing is happening inside of that facility has a lot of these workers very concerned for their family, for themselves and for the communities that they live in.”

Seaboard Foods said six of its workers in Guymon have died from COVID-19 and 41 percent of its approximately 2,500 employees have tested positive for the virus. The company spokesman said Seaboard has gone through millions of face masks and more than 400 gallons of hand sanitizer, according to a report by The Associated Press.

More than 50,000 meatpacking workers across the country have been infected with COVID-19, and at least 248 have died, according to Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting Tracking.

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