Tyson Introduces 'Employee Bill of Rights'

Jan. 27, 2005
In an effort to ensure workers understand their rights in the workplace including their right to a safe workplace Tyson Foods has developed a new "Team Member Bill of Rights."

The document, which took several months to develop, will be posted in all Tyson facilities throughout the country.

"This 'bill' reinforces the practices we've long supported and communicated at our plants," said John Tyson, chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods. "Our team members are the company's most valuable resource and we want to make sure they understand their rights, benefits and responsibilities.'

The document, which will be translated into multiple languages, covers such areas as:

  • The right to a safe workplace.
  • The right to be free from discrimination and retaliation.
  • The right to be compensated for work performed.
  • The right to understand information provided.
  • The right to choose whether they want to join together for collective bargaining.
  • The right to continuing training.

The "bill," signed by John Tyson, underscores the company's core values and "commitment that all team members are treated with dignity and respect." It also highlights the "Tell Tyson First Program," which encourages workers who believe they are being unfairly treated to contact the corporate human resources department by calling a toll-free number.

In the past, Tyson Foods has been cited by OSHA for violations of occupational safety and health regulations, some of which lead to worker fatalities. In April 2004, OSHA cited a Tyson Foods Inc. facility in Texarkana, Ark., for alleged willful and serious violations of health and safety standards following the October death of an employee who was asphyxiated when he inhaled hydrogen sulfide. OSHA proposed penalties of $436,000 for the alleged violations.

In June 2001, OSHA and Tyson Foods Inc. signed a partnership agreement aimed at improving worker safety and health at two of the poultry processor's facilities in Clarksville, Ark., and in Monett, Mo.

The company says that most Tyson plants have a full-time safety manager, as well as occupational nurses. The company also maintains a corporate health and safety department. New employees go through orientation and training programs that place heavy emphasis on workplace safety.

According to Tyson, this includes demonstrations on the proper use of personal protective equipment. Tyson facilities typically have safety-related committees made up of management and hourly employees. This usually includes committees on general safety, ergonomics, hazardous materials and fire protection.

According to John Tyson, protecting the safety of the company's production workers, as well as product quality, are key factors in determining the number of people needed to accommodate plant production rates.

In other workplace efforts, the company provides interpreters for its non-English speaking employees. The company offers an interpreter training program, and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are also provided, either on site or are available through local schools.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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