Cory Gardner Boasts He & Vice President Got COVID-19 Tests for Meatpacking Plant. But Workers Never Got Tested

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: Here is UFCW President Kim Cordova on MSNBC from Monday night confirming that most workers at the JBS Greeley plant were never tested:

Obviously, there’s a major factual discrepancy here in Cory Gardner’s taking personal credit for delivering thousands of tests to the JBS Greeley plant versus the apparent reality that those tests were never carried out. Presumably Gardner should be as interested in getting to the bottom of this as he has been at swinging deals for (some) of the ventilators Colorado tried to order, and personal protective equipment from foreign diplomatic contacts to mitigate federal shortage and broken promises.

We’ll say it again: these are Coloradans, and workers who have been declared essential national assets by the President of the United States during the current emergency. But for a host of reasons that sadly must include the social status and ethnic diversity of this underprivileged workforce, they are not being treated as essential.

Not just Cory Gardner, but every meat eater in America should feel a sense of responsibility. Original post follows.

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Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) might want to pick a better anecdote to showcase his strong relationship with Vice President Mike Pence than their recent work to reopen Greeley’s JBS meatpacking plant.

Speaking online to an invite-only group of Republican activists Monday evening, Gardner was asked to describe his work with Pence during the pandemic.

Gardner recounted their recent effort to address the deadly outbreak at the JBS facility, concluding, “We got 5,000 tests for that plant, and they’re up and running again as of this past Friday.”

JBS is indeed open for business, but only after the company’s leaders broke its promise to test all employees for COVID-19 before they returned to work.

As Denver Channel 7’s Investigative team reported, Contact7 Investigates has confirmed promises from the White House and JBS management to provide testing for employees at the massive meatpacking plant in Greeley have not been kept.”

As noted above, it wasn’t just corporate managers who reneged on the deal, Vice President Pence himself also publicly promised that JBS workers would get tests. According to Gardner, he was intimately involved in the discussions that led to that promise. 

“I’ve got a very, very strong relationship with the vice president we speak regularly,” said Gardner during yesterday’s online gathering. “In fact, it was a couple weekends ago we were in the middle of the JBS meatpacking plant up in Greeley–in Northern Colorado. We were trying to keep the plant from closing.

We were trying to find a way to protect those workers, keep the plant open, make sure that it didn’t impact our food supply, and make sure that it didn’t hurt our cattle markets.

I probably spoke–just that weekend alone–to the vice president six or seven times as we were getting the CDC on the phone. I spoke to Admiral Giroir. We were working with Dr. Birx to try to find a guidance and a solution to keep that plan from closing and then what it would mean. So the vice president, we worked together. We got 5,000 tests for that plant, and they’re up and running again as of this past Friday.”

The plight of untested workers called back to their jobs in a Colorado facility linked to over 100 cases and five fatalities was reported by NBC national news two days ago, the day before Gardner touted his involvement.

In follow-up report by the Rachel Maddow Show Monday, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 7 representative Kim Cordova, who represents the JBS workers, explained the situation: “Once they started testing their supervisors and it became apparent that the numbers were alarmingly high, they abruptly stopped testing without consulting Weld County. They never tested any of the frontline production workers.”

A call to the JBS Media Relations office was not immediately returned.

Today President Trump announced he will invoke the Defense Production Act to force meatpacking plants to stay open. Bloomberg reports he will sign an executive order to address a “liability issue” raised by Tyson Foods, which, along with JBS, is one of the nation’s largest meat processing companies.

Gardner’s office did not immediately return an email inquiry seeking to know if Gardner knew the workers were never tested for COVID-19 and, if so, why they didn’t receive tests. This post will be updated with any response received.

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  1. notaskinnycook says:

    Here's where Local 7 can earn their dues. Their members don't go back until the plant is clean, the tests are done, and there are no infected workers on the floor.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      And given the death of a front office worker, there ought to be infection tests for workers ANYWHERE on the facility, screening tests to avoid symptomatic workers coming in, and PPE/distancing regulations on the floor, in employee areas, and in the inevitable lines for screening tests and entry.

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    So, let me see if I can wrap my head around this, . . .

    . . . Ttump’s solution to the problem of companies killing their essential brown workers by not providing safe working environments, and not providing the testing they’ve been given because they don’t like the results showing proof that their workplaces are unsafe, is to give those companies and their billionaire owners liability waivers and legal and political shielding for their their negligence, depravity, and indifference to human life ???? . . .

    Hmmm . . . OK, I guess that sounds about right.

    Now I can see why Cory’s touting this bit of accomplishment.

     

    Wonder what today’s Presidential crime-against-humanity will be? . . .

    (. . . BTW, it shouldn’t be very long now until those Presidential Medals are ready to be awarded to JBS and Tyson.)

     

    • Early Worm says:

      Trump is beyond comprehension or redemption. The corporations, on the other hand, are proving once again that contrary to the Supreme Court in Citizen United, they are not people. From a corporate standpoint, what is the problem? Is it the disease sickening and killing the workforce? No. It is the potential liability ($) to the workers and their families for failing to take adequate safety precautions. So, what is the solution? Federally mandated waivers of liability. There will still be sick and dead workers, but it won't affect the balance sheet. Corporation (which have no humanity) are a legal fiction designed to chase profit, nothing else. 

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Seems like the right place to once again encourage anyone who didn't get a chance to read this last week to take a gander.  It's well past time to put some bumpers on this corporate train wreck:

        How Business Should Change After the Coronavirus Crisis

        At the same time, American corporations weakened the traditional gain-sharing between the workforce and stockholders that characterized the post-World War II era. During that period, when corporate profits went up, workers shared equitably in the gains. Not any more.

        There are many reasons for this, including diminished legal protection for workers seeking to unionize. But our corporate governance system must accept substantial responsibility for the slant against workers and in favor of stockholders. Powerful institutional investors have arisen to pressure companies to reduce the share of corporate profits that goes into workers’ paychecks and tilt companies toward riskier balance sheets. Making this more piquant is that these institutional investors wield the power that flows from the 401(k) retirement savings of American workers, worker-investors who derive almost all of their wealth and savings from their continued access to a job and fair pay raises.

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