Letter to the Editor

Tyson works to keep team members safe

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

To the editor,

Community means neighbors, family and friends, church and school. It means where we work, the stores where we shop, the restaurants where we eat and where we go to enjoy a little fun. It’s the everyday moments, and probably the things I’ve taken for granted, that make me proud to be a member of this community.  


COVID-19 has disrupted our community and forced changes on us all, but these changes are to help keep us safe. As the complex manager of the Shelbyville facility, safety is a top priority. It’s a question I ask myself every day: how do I help keep all 1,400 members of our Tyson community safe? How do we — a major employer and an essential business — operate in the best interest of our workers and consumers?

Daily, I am reminded how critically important it is to practice frequent hand washing, social distancing and CDC guidance to protect against coronavirus, not only on the job, but also at home.

We’re working hard to protect our team members in Tennessee during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country and keeping thousands employed. We check worker temperatures and require they wear protective face coverings. We’ve implemented social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and barriers in our break-rooms, we sanitize our facilities daily, and have increased sanitizing for frequently touched surfaces such as doors and tables and encourage frequent and increased hand washing. In March, we relaxed our attendance policy to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick and we continue to remind them to follow CDC guidelines at home as well as at work.  

Our team members have mandatory health care coverage and we’ve made changes by waiving a five consecutive day waiting period for Short Term Disability benefits so employees can receive pay while they’re sick with the flu or COVID-19. In addition, we’re waiving the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps. We’ve waived co-pays for the use of telemedicine and are relaxing refill limits for 30-day prescriptions of maintenance medication. 

No one should be fearful to go to work. Because our plants are already focused on the importance of food safety, we have always kept the environments within them clean through strict sanitary processes. During this time, we are increasing the frequency of and enhancing those processes even more. When coupled with all the other things we are doing in our plants, I truly believe they’re one of the safest places for a person to be. I want everyone in this community to know we are committed to maintaining a safe working environment at Shelbyville.

It’s during these times of uncertainty when communities need to support and help one another.

I would like to add just how proud I am of our entire Shelbyville team for all their hard work and determination. They are here to help keep the food supply chain flowing and grocery stores supplied, not only our community but for the entire country.

Andrew Blair, Tyson Foods complex manager