Letter to the Editor
Regardless if it’s in our homes, houses of worship, lodges, parks, or even at a lake; we’ve learned that we do not have to gather to be together. We are resolute and resilient to keeping our community safe, sound and secure even in this problematic pandemic. We are the community concentrating on the commonwealth of every citizen.
COVID-19 has disrupted our community and forced changes on us all, but these changes are to help keep us safe. As the complex manager of the Forest, Mississippi, processing plant, safety is a top priority. It’s a question I ask myself every day: how do I help keep the nearly 1,000 of our Tyson community safe? How do we — a major employer and an essential business — operate in the best interest of our workers and consumers?
I assure you we’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country and keeping thousands employed. We check all our team member’s temperatures and require they wear protective face coverings. We’ve implemented social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and barriers in our breakrooms, and we are deep cleaning our facilities daily. In March, we relaxed our attendance policy to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick and we continue to remind them to follow CDC guidelines at home as well as at work.
Our team members have mandatory health care coverage and we’ve made changes by waiving a five consecutive day waiting period for Short Term Disability and increased coverage to 90 percent of normal pay until June 30, 2020, so employees can receive pay while they’re sick with the flu or COVID-19. In addition, we’re waiving the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps. We’ve waived co-pays for the use of telemedicine and are relaxing refill limits for 30-day prescriptions of maintenance medication.
Also, the company is now offering $120 million in “thank you bonuses” for 116,000 U.S. frontline workers and truckers, up from the $60 million announced in early April. The company is moving up the first $500 bonus payment to early May. The second $500 bonus will be paid in July.
No one should be fearful to go to work. Because our plant is already laser focused on food safety efforts, I believe it’s one of the safest places for a person to be. I want everyone in this community to know we are committed to maintaining a safe working environment at Tyson Foods.
It’s during these times of uncertainty when communities come together to support and help one another and we’re proud to be part of a community that does just that.
I am proud of the Tyson team and I’m proud that we get to work for a company that lives out the culture of valuing people. We strive to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Thanks to all our team members and thanks to the community for your continued support.
Tyson Foods Complex Manager