JBS union holds memorial for Greeley plant workers who died from COVID-19

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GREELEY, Colo. — Six helmets with six pictures stood outside of the JBS meatpacking facility in Greeley Sunday memorializing the six workers who died there from COVID-19. The union representing the factory, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, says the six deaths could have been prevented with more stringent requirements and guidelines to preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Betty Rangel, the daughter of Saul Sanchez, a deceased worker, said the company should have started protecting workers as soon as they heard about it.

“Be there for your employees,” she said. “They work hard for you. Protect them.”

Though it is unclear exactly how each of the six employees contracted the virus, JBS has faced criticism in Colorado and across the country for its handling of outbreaks at its facilities. The facility in Greeley was shuttered for several weeks in April after an outbreak killed two people and infected numerous employees.

Sen. Michael Bennet, who attended the rally, said the employees went to work every day and put on a mask. They put their lives at risk, he said.

“What needs to be done is we need to protect each other,” he said. “We need to take responsibility for each other.”

Representatives for JBS did not return calls for comment but have said that measures are in place to mitigate COVID spread.