Smithfield Foods closes plants in Wisconsin, Missouri
CUDAHY, Wis. (AP) — Smithfield Foods will temporarily close plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and Martin City, Missouri, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The plant near Milwaukee will be closed for two weeks while the facility in Missouri is closed indefinitely. The Missouri plant receives raw material from the company’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota facility, which is also closed.
Smithfield Foods has reported 518 infections in employees in Sioux Falls and an additional 126 in people connected to them.
Smithfield said a small number of employees at the Wisconsin and Missouri plants have tested positive for COVID-19.
The company is based in Smithfield, Virginia, and employs over 1,000 workers at the Cudahy plant.
John Eiden, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1473, raised concerns that the company wasn’t doing enough to protect workers in a letter to Smithfield’s human resources department, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The March 26 letter said two employees tested positive for coronavirus, but not all union members were informed of the second case.
At the Martin City plan, six to nine people, including managers, contracted COVID-19, Martin Rosas, president of UFCW Local 2, told The Associated Press.
One of the deciding factors in closing the facility was because the shuttered Sioux Falls plant supplies the Missouri operation with hams. The Martin City facility produces spiral hams.
The union was told that Smithfield plans to be back in full operation in Martin City by April 30, Rosas said. Employees will continue to receive their full 40-hour pay in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.
The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.