A manager of Tyson Foods, who was fired for betting on how many workers will sign up for COVID-19 at a pork factory in Iowa, said the office swimming pool was spontaneous and aimed to boost morale.
Iowa City, Iowa-A manager of Tyson Foods was fired for betting on how many workers in the Iowa pork factory would sign up for COVID-1
Don Merschbrock, the former night shift manager of the Waterloo plant in Iowa, said he did this to show that the seven fired executives were not the “evil people” described by Tyson.
He told the Associated Press: “We really want to clear our name.” “We actually worked very hard and took good care of our team members.”
Tyson announced the removal of the Waterloo manager on December 16 after gambling allegations of improper deaths filed by the families of four workers who died of COVID-19 surfaced.
Tyson said an investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder found sufficient evidence to terminate those involved, claiming that their actions violated the company’s values of respect and integrity. The company had asked Holder’s law firm to investigate this allegation because the public’s backlash threatened to damage its brand and demoralize employees.
The Springdale, Arkansas-based company is one of the largest meat producers in the world. It did not publish Holder’s findings. The fired managers complained that they were let go without explanation. .
Merschbrock issued a statement and stated in an interview that since he is not a defendant in the lawsuit, he is more willing to speak than other dismissed managers.
He said the managers carried out the construction of the office swimming pool within minutes of conducting a large-scale test on the plant’s approximately 2,800 workers last spring.
County officials said in May last year that more than 1,000 workers had tested positive for the virus, which had hospitalized several people and killed at least six people. They accused Tyson of initially not providing enough protective equipment for workers and only letting the factory go idling after the epidemic swept across the city.
Lawyers for the estate of the four dead workers described the bet as an indication of the company’s indifferent attitude towards health and safety. They claimed that managers underestimated the severity of the virus and sometimes allowed or encouraged employees to work on sick leave.
Tyson said that the factory is the largest pork factory and can process 20,000 pigs per day. The plant was designated by the federal government as an important infrastructure facility in March, and its leaders are committed to “continue operations safely to ensure national food supplies.”
Merschbrock, who has worked at Tyson for ten years, said that while implementing virus safety precautions, managers are given “an “impossible task” to maintain production.” He said they work 12 hours a day. , Work six or seven days a week.
Moschbruck said there was approximately $50 in cash in the office’s cash pool, and the winners selected the correct percentage of workers who tested positive for the virus. He added that the participants did not believe that the pool violated company policy and believed that due to its mitigation measures, the positive rate of the factory would be lower than the community rate.
Merschbrock said: “This is a group of exhausted supervisors. They work hard to solve many unsolvable problems. They are very smart.” “This is simply an interesting thing and an incredible effort. It boosts morale. There has never been any malicious intention. This is by no means to belittle anyone.”
A Tyson spokesperson declined to comment on Mosbrook’s claims.
Mel Orchard, a lawyer representing the family of the deceased employee, said that protecting workers from the virus is not “an unsolvable problem.” He said that this is a corporate culture where executives will produce and Prioritize sales and treat production line workers as consumables.
He said: “Listening to the stories of those who lost their fathers, brothers or wives, it is difficult for me to sympathize with managers who have worked overtime and are tired.” But I do understand why this happened and how it happened. . “
The orchard represents the estate of 58-year-old Sedika Buljic; Reberiano Garcia, 60; Jose Ayala, 44; and Isidro Fernandez. After six weeks of hospitalization, Burgic, Garcia and Fernandez died in April, and Ayala died on May 25.
This story corrects the spelling of Don Merschbrock’s surname in a reference.