Cargill’s Schuyler, Neb., protein facility will begin the process to temporarily idle effective May 4. They are taking this step out of an abundance of caution and consistent with our commitment to prioritizing employee health as our local workforce deals with the community-wide impacts of COVID-19.
As they work in partnership with the union, our employees will be paid the 36 hours per week as outlined in the collective agreement. As they prioritize the health of our workers and collaborate with health officials, we are tentatively working toward the week of May 18 to resume operation.
Jon Nash, Cargill Protein – North America Lead released a statement on Monday afternoon:
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of Cargill employees, we have decided to temporarily idle our Schuyler protein facility. This was a difficult decision for our team as we operate an essential service, but our values are guiding our actions. Our focus now is continuing to keep our employees safe and getting our facility back to normal operations as soon as we can.
This was a difficult decision for our team who are operating an essential service and are committed to delivering food for local families and access to markets for farmers and ranchers. We care deeply about our employees and their safety. They are everyday heroes on the front lines of our food system.
To prevent food waste, we will process nearly 8 million meals-worth of protein currently in our facility as quickly as possible. We greatly appreciate our employees who are working to complete this effort.
While this location is idled and we adapt to operating during a pandemic, our work doesn’t stop. Cargill provides an essential service to the world—providing the ingredients, feed and food that nourishes people and animals. We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving.”
Background details released from Cargill:
Cargill is encouraging employees to be tested. We have also stressed the importance of social distancing for those across the community who have been impacted by the virus. We have encouraged any employees who are sick or have been with anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days to stay home. While operational, Cargill offered up to 80 hours of additional paid leave related to COVID-19.
We are working closely with local departments of health and medical officials to ensure appropriate prevention, testing, cleaning and quarantine protocols are followed within our facilities. For several weeks, we have taken extra steps to focus on safety and remain at normal operations – including temporary wage increases and bonuses for our employees who are on the front lines of the food system.
Over the past two months, we have also implemented additional safety measures like temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, face coverings, screening between employee stations, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks and shift flexibility. These measures will remain in place when we resume full operation.