Protect the workers at JBS Foods Canada, Protect Brooks AB

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This petition is to express grave concern regarding the high risk of COVID-19 transmission at JBS Canada Food Inc. Plant in Brooks, AB, Canada. As of April 23, Brooks has 311 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, indicating a high-per-capita rate of transmission that is accelerated for a community of this size (Population: 14,436, 2016). The vast majority of those cases are traced to workers and their families, with a total of 124 cases in employees and contractors at JBS; many of whom are immigrant and foreign workers. 

The plant stays open on the basis that precautions have taken place but these precautions are not enough. Production at the plant is not conducive to physical-distancing and masks and PPE provided are inadequate to protect against the spread. Hundreds of workers have stopped coming to the work on the basis of safety and those that are working have expressed that they do not feel safe. 

Members of the community are concerned that community transmission will meet or exceed the Cargill Foods plant in High River: 484 cases and 1 death can be traced to this plant to date. The JBS Foods plants in Greeley Colorado did not shut down until 4 workers died from COVID-19.  These examples have made it clear that we cannot rely solely on employers to protect workers and their communities. 

Our requests are as follows: 

  1. We support the UFCW Local 401 call for a temporary two-week closure of the plant to stop the spread of COVID-19
  2. At the very least, we call for an in-person external inspection of the plant to ensure that precautions are adequate and consistently upheld 

We have already seen what can happen if workers’ concerns are ignored. We do not want to wait until death counts and hundreds more cases before action is taken.