Four employees who worked at a Tyson Foods poultry processing facility in rural southwest Georgia have died due to the coronavirus.
Edgar Fields, president of the Southeast Council of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in an April 17 statement that "We can confirm that we’ve lost three members at Tyson in Camilla, Georgia. … We are heartbroken."
"I want to reiterate, what’s happening in Camilla, Georgia is a clear example of how not to do things. It’s too little too late here, and I hope sharing our story will help stop other communities from being exploited by corporate America. When I speak to our members I hear real fear in their voices, and their voices must continue to be heard,” Fields said.
Fields said over the past month, the RWDSU has called on poultry industry employers "to implement critical standards to protect workers’ safety and to secure the food supply chain. The industry’s response for the most part has only been recent, sporadic and limited to a few locations, leaving most workers unprotected - despite months-long demands from the RWDSU.
"While the company has pledged to do better, and has started to share PPE with workers, put up protective barriers at some facilities, and pledged to pay union workers for time in quarantine, the fact is it’s too little too late. Workers are dying," Fields said.
On April 17, Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson confirmed to the Associated Press that three of the employees worked at the company’s chicken processing plant in Camilla. The fourth person worked for the company outside the plant.