Tyson Managers Fired; Water Lawsuit Challenged

Dec 18, 2020  | 3 min  | Ep4618

The nation’s second largest packer is under increased scrutiny.

The New York City Comptroller wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether meat-packing giant Tyson made misleading disclosures about the company’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The company also is being sued over the wrongful death of one of its employees.

And the company’s own independent investigator confirmed findings about manager misconduct earlier this year.

Peter Tubbs has more.  

Tyson Foods announced the firing of seven managers at its Waterloo, Iowa plant. An investigation found the managers reduced their time on the plant floor to avoid catching the virus from workers. Managers also left untrained employees to manage meat cutters, and participated in a betting pool on the number of workers who would test positive for COVID-19. 
Over 1,000 of the plant’s 2,800 workers contracted COVID-19 between March and May of 2020. Tyson has since installed barriers at workstations to limit the spread of the virus.
In the capital city of Des Moines, oral arguments on the validity of a 2019 lawsuit on Iowa water quality were heard by the Iowa Supreme Court this week.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has sued the State of Iowa over state policy exempting agriculture from water pollution rules. ICCI believes the voluntary terms of the Nutrient Reduction Act, which passed the Iowa Legislature in 2018, violates the Iowa Constitution.
The focus of the suit is the Raccoon River watershed, which ICCI maintains is not available for use by the citizens of Iowa due to high nitrate levels in the water. The nitrates are believed to be from runoff from agricultural fields and from the manure of animal feeding operations.
Brent Newell, Food and Water Watch: “This is about vindicating the public's right to clean water about ensuring that the state is protecting the recreational, use the drinking water use of an important water body within Iowa for the benefit of Iowans. That's what the public trust doctrine is. That's what it has always been. And the state is violating its duty to protect this right to clean water.” 
The Raccoon River supplies the drinking water for over 500,000 people in Central Iowa. At certain times of the year, nitrate levels in the river exceed safe levels for drinking water and must be removed. 
The State was asking for the suit to be dismissed on the grounds that ICCI does not have standing in the case, and that their argument is too broad.
Jeffrery Thompson, Iowa Solicitor General: “This idea that the aesthetic, the recreation, and drinking is paramount to any other use that Iowa or Iowans might use waterways and the surface water for, I think presumes too much.”

If the Iowa Supreme court upholds the lower court ruling that ICCI has standing in the case, the suit returns to District Court in Des Moines.
For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.

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