Union reports two cases of COVID-19 at Patrick Cudahy

NOW: Union reports two cases of COVID-19 at Patrick Cudahy

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Former Patrick Cudahy employee union representative Walter Garron says workers are afraid after at least two employees tested positive for COVID-19, and they want a safer work environment.

“They check everybody’s bags when they walk out, when they walk in, in case they steal something," Garron said. "Why not have one of those guards with a thermostat checking people’s temperatures.”

Local 1473 sent a letter to the company shortly after the second coronavirus case saying in part, “We understand you have not informed all of the members of the second case. I want you to understand that we have received over 50 phone calls regarding the first case…these calls have been with your employees who feel Patrick Cudahy hasn’t kept them safe and isn’t taking this pandemic seriously.”

“Where they work, they are line," Garron said. "So they have to work about two or three feet apart from each other.”

Smithfield, the parent company for the plant, said in a statement, in part, "We have instituted a series of stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) to effectively manage any potential COVID-19 cases in our operations. To be certain, these measures include mandatory 14-day COVID-19 related quarantines with pay."

Employment attorney Nola Hitchcock Cross said the union did the right thing sending a letter. She said if you have a problem with your workplace during the pandemic, tell your employer first. You can always reach out to OSHA if the issue is not resolved. 

“They should certainly tell the employer that they are doing that, which gives them a little bit of protection in terms of the employer can’t retaliate against people who are bringing issues to OSHA,” Hitchcock Cross said.

Smithfield says they have enhanced cleaning and disinfecting at all of their plants across the country.

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