Smithfield Foods, Inc. plans to reopen its pork processing facility in Monmouth, Ill. According to a company statement, the plant will reopen on Saturday.
On Apr. 24, the company announced it was proactively suspending operations at its Monmouth facility after a small portion of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19. The Monmouth plant represents approximately 3% percent of U.S. fresh pork supplies and also produces bacon. Employees were paid during the closure.
Smithfield Foods issued the following statement underscoring its ongoing positive and constructive partnership with its team members across the country:
"Media and other reports pitting the company against its employees are flat out wrong. There is no such division. The company and its team members all want the same thing, namely, to protect employee health and safety while also safeguarding America's food supply.
"Demands for things like 100% compliance with all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance; access to personal protective equipment and handwashing stations; robust communication in multiple languages; generous paid leave policies, including full bonus eligibility; and priority access to voluntary COVID-19 testing are totally and completely reasonable. The company agrees!"
At the core of the company's COVID-19 response is an ongoing focus on employee health and safety and continued adherence with – at a minimum – the CDC and OSHA guidance. Across all its facilities, the company is providing its team members with PPE, including masks and at least temporary face shields. The company believes that the recent executive order will provide priority assistance in securing an ongoing supply of enhanced PPE, most critically permanent face shields, as well as aid the company in securing broader COVID-19 testing for its employees.
The company has implemented mass thermal scanning and installed physical barriers on its production floors and in break areas. It also continues to explicitly instruct employees not to report to work if they are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and that they will be paid, including any and all bonuses, when they are quarantined. These measures remain mandatory and nonnegotiable conditions for the company to operate.