Workers' union: JBS-Worthington plant to reopen Wednesday with new safety precautions

The JBS plant in Worthington, Minnesota is temporarily closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The union representing workers at the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota said the plant is planning to reopen Wednesday after it shutdown due to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases last month. 

In a release Sunday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 said JBS will open the “kill side” of the plant Wednesday after an executive order from President Donald Trump mandated that meatpacking and poultry plants reopen or remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late last week, officials gathered in Worthington to discuss the plant's reopening after the President's order. 

UCFW Local 663 President Matt Utecht said the union has been “hard at work ensuring that reopening the plant involves a commitment to enhanced safety guidelines for a safe reopening of the Worthington plant.”

Utecht said social distancing will be enforced in the plant and in the common areas along with “frequent and thorough disinfecting” and daily communication with plant personnel.

In a release from the union, member and JBS employee Yolanda Martinez called the new guidelines “a step in the right direction.”

In its announcement of reopening, UCFW Local 663 shared a list of precautions JBS plans to take and has taken during the shutdown in order to ensure worker safety.

That list says nearly the entire plant was cleaned “floor to ceiling” during the shutdown week. Additionally, 80 touchless sanitizer dispensers and 30 touchless water faucets were installed throughout the plant. To see a full list of precautions the plant says it is taking, click here.