Pay is one of the top worker complaints with food processors like Tyson Foods. The Springdale-based meat protein giant on Monday (Dec. 6) announced around $50 million in year-end bonus pay for frontline plant workers and hourly employees to address the complaints.
Tyson said the one-time bonus pay will range from $300 to $700 per employee and be based on tenure. The bonuses will go out this month.
“This is yet another way for us to say thank you and show how grateful we are for our frontline teams’ efforts to keep each other safe, our company strong and our world fed over the past year,” said CEO Donnie King, “While 2021 presented many challenges, our entire Tyson team continued to meet them, head on.”
Tyson said it has invested more than $500 million in wage increases and bonuses for plant workers during 2021. Plants experienced an average of 20% absences during much of the year which was the equivalent of losing one day of production per week. King has championed higher wages for manufacturing workers saying the hourly pay averages $18 before benefits.
Total compensation including benefits averages more than $24 per hour. Tyson said it does not include overtime, an option many employees choose, or other incentives. For example, as part of the company’s efforts to protect its U.S. workforce against COVID-19, the company paid $200 to frontline workers who were fully vaccinated.
“Tyson wants to be the most sought-after place to work, period,” said King. “Our frontline team members tell us higher pay is important, but that’s only a part of the story—they also want more flexibility and more say over their time. In rural parts of the country, they don’t want to have to drive miles to see the doctor. Everything we’re doing is because our team members are the heart of our business and its future success.”
Tyson is using other ways to retain frontline workers during the pandemic. The company will offer flexible work schedules and paid sick leave at some facilities beginning Jan. 1. Tyson also opened seven health centers to give frontline workers and their families easier healthcare access at no cost in many cases, according to the company. The company is also testing a program to help with childcare for late-shift workers at its Amarillo, Texas, beef production plant.