(Cold Spring MN) — The St. Cloud Times reports more than 100 workers at Pilgrim’s Pride walked out of the facility in Cold Spring Monday around 10 p.m. in protest of how the poultry processing facility is handling worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stearns County Public Health confirmed last week there are employees at both Pilgrim’s Pride in Cold Spring and Jennie-O in Melrose who have tested positive for COVID-19. A news release said the county is working with the companies as well as the Minnesota Department of Health and CentraCare, and responsive action plans are in progress.
The St. Cloud Times spoke to Mohamed Goni, staff organizer at the Greater Minnesota Worker Center present at the walkout Monday evening, Goni said workers’ concerns include a lack of transparency about whether workers have been exposed to the novel coronavirus from their colleagues and people reporting back to work too soon after being sent home. According to an emailed statement from a Pilgrim’s Pride representative sent last week, the Cold Spring facility has taken safety measures, including screening and providing personal protective equipment, among others. The statement said no one is encouraged to come back to work before quarantine periods are over.