NewsDenver7 | Investigates


JBS meatpacking plant pays sick employee hours after Contact7 Investigates raises red flags

Employee currently fighting for his life after contracting COVID-19
jbs meat plant.jpg
Posted at 7:46 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 22:38:15-04

Editor's note: Hours after Contact7 Investigates went on-air with this story, Rodriguez's daughter says her family received a check from JBS.

Our previous story is below:

A Greeley family says it’s struggling to pay its bills after the city’s largest employer stopped sending paychecks to one of its longest working employees.

Sergio Rodriguez has spent the past four decades reporting to work for JBS, the meatpacking plant that has been shut down after an outbreak of COVID-19.

His family says the moment he got sick — the moment he became symptomatic for the virus — that’s when the multinational meat processer cut off his pay. This latest accusation comes at a time when the plant is currently shut down.

Last Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Weld County Health Department reached an agreement with JBS to close the facility for two weeks to test workers and sanitize the plant following two deaths from the novel coronavirus. In its statement at the time, JBS said it would pay employees during the closure and in prior statements the company said it would pay employees testing positive for the virus.

“I just think it’s kind of messed up,” said Crystal Rodriguez, a current JBS employee and the daughter of Sergio Rodriguez. “My dad has been there 36 plus years,” Rodriguez’ daughter added. “And they are not paying him, now that he’s sick and really needs it.”

For the past three weeks, 58-year-old Sergio Rodriguez has been in a Greeley hospital fighting for his life. The family says doctors diagnosed Mr. Rodriguez with COVID-19 during the final week of March. His daughter says her dad was feeling symptomatic on March 20, the last day he reported to work. Seven days later, he was admitted to UCHealth Hospital in Greeley and has not left the hospital since. He’s been on a ventilator and at one point, the family says doctors were not sure he would survive the virus.

When asked by Contact7 Investigates about how Mr. Rodriguez got the virus, his daughter responded, “I think he got it at work. Because at work we are in contact with people from everywhere, not enough hand sanitizer, not enough soap and elbow-to-elbow working conditions, so it’s not the safest place to be in this type of situation.”

Crystal Rodriguez said she was willing to share her eyewitness accounts of what she experienced while working at the plant.

“When I was working there, a supervisor behind me on my table, she was sick and coughing and stuff, like, coughing her brains out." And, she added, "(The supervisor) was there working, and I am sure they heard her coughing. Why didn’t they stop her from working?”

Crystal Rodriguez blames that culture inside the plant on giving her dad the virus. Since the day he stopped reporting for work, since the day he became ill, Crystal says she has called managers at JBS inquiring about his pay and benefits.

“I don’t know why they haven’t paid him if he put all his time and his hard work and his life into that job; that’s how they want to show him and not be paying him right now," Rodriguez’ daughter continued. “He’s fighting for his life and to get his health back.”

Contact7 Investigates reached out to JBS management for a response about the claims made by the Rodriguez family. JBS issued the following statement:

"Sergio has been paid in full per our collective bargaining agreement."

Contact7 asked JBS managers for further clarification. JBS has not responded to that request. The President of the Union representing JBS employees has said the Union will look into concerns raised by the Rodriguez family.