Response from Tyson Foods, Inc.
While the "Now with Bill Moyers" program did offer some limited information
from the company's perspective, we are concerned it might appear from the
program we are making an unfair contract offer to the union representing our
plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin. We would like to offer the following for
We cooperated fully with the producers, referring them to a number of
sources, including unbiased third parties such as academic labor experts,
who could present a different side of the story. While we appreciate the
opportunity to tell our side of the story through our Senior Vice President
of Human Resources, Ken Kimbro, we believe a more balanced approach would
have also included a broader perspective from other authoritative sources.
The union assertion that Tyson Foods is attempting to impose a wage lower
than community or industry standards is totally unfounded. Wage proposals
are determined by a number of factors, not the least of which is a study of
prevailing wages in the plant community. As part of this research, we
accessed the JobNet Web site of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to see what other companies
in the area are offering as starting wages. A look at these jobs will
indicate the offer is indeed in line with, and in many cases better than,
wages being offered in other plants in the Jefferson/Madison area. While
jobs from this site are continually being filled and removed, a partial list
of such jobs can be found at the
Tyson Foods Web site. We
provided this list to the producers of the program to support our position.
Tyson Foods, Inc. has 55 union contracts in our operations, which span 27
states, from Washington State to Maine to Georgia. Since the acquisition of
IBP, inc. in 2001, this is the only union contract which has come up for
renewal and not been ratified.
Within the past ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that wages
in the poultry industry, as well as in the beef and pork industries, have
increased at a rate faster than inflation. Wages at Tyson Foods have
similarly increased at a rate faster than inflation. The implication that
the company is attempting to "push wages lower" is not supported by wage
trends in our industry or in our company.
Soaring healthcare costs are affecting everyone. Today, the average blue
collar worker pays $208 a month for his share of family healthcare coverage. See Bureau of Labor Statistics. The healthcare plan offered as part of the proposed contract in Jefferson offers a basic family plan, including dental and vision benefits for $117 a month.
After a detailed review of the Company's negotiations with the bargaining
unit at Jefferson, the National Labor Relations Board determined that Tyson
Foods negotiators bargained in good faith in the thirty-six on-the-record
bargaining sessions held before and during the eight month extension of the
contract at Jefferson leading up to the strike.
A number of assertions made by the union in the course of the strike
regarding details of the proposed contract have been unfounded. For an
overview of the points of difference within the contract, see Jefferson
Plant Manager Dev Traver's letter to the community.
We appreciate the opportunity to respond to concerns raised by the program.
Tyson Foods, Inc.