Union hosts memorial with procession for 6 JBS workers killed by virus
By Trevor Reid, Greeley Tribune (CO)
June 29, 2020
Dozens of people gathered Sunday outside the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 Headquarters to honor six JBS employees who died of COVID-19 after working at the Greeley beef plant, home to one of the largest outbreaks in Colorado.
The memorial began with a moment of silence for essential workers who have died in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim Cordova, president of the union, offered condolences to the families of those who have died. Six workers from the JBS Greeley beef plant have died from COVID-19, according to state data, and 281 employees have contracted the virus.
“We gather here today to pay our respects and to honor our six beloved heroes who died while working to ensure that our communities are fed,” Cordova said.
The union has memorialized the workers who were killed by the virus, with two billboards featuring the employees’ names and photos on southbound U.S. 85 near the plant and westbound on U.S. 34, west of the U.S. 85 intersection. A third memorial sits across the street from the plant, featuring six purple hardhats, photos of the employees and flowers.
“In my culture, a person never truly dies as long as their memory lives,” Cordova said. “We wanted the community to know and to remember these workers, that they had a name; that they had a face; they had a heartbeat; they had a soul. And they had all of us who care about them; and that they mattered. They mattered to all of us.”
Cordova said to truly honor the six workers who died, people should continue to advocate for workplace safety. She called for state and federal inspectors on the job site, an end to the “work-while sick culture” and for people to stand up against systemic racism “in our country, community and economy.”
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet thanked Cordova and the union for their leadership in protecting essential workers. He echoed Cordova’s call to end the work-while-sick culture.
“‘These are essential workers,’ that’s what we say,” Bennet said...