Waterloo, Iowa — In light of the wrongful death lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods this week, State Rep. Ras Smith of Waterloo called on Governor Kim Reynolds to stop hiding the role her administration played during the COVID crisis at Tyson last spring.
“I’m outraged by allegations in the Tyson lawsuit filed this week, but not surprised. Since the pandemic began, I’ve heard dozens of horror stories about how employees have been mistreated,” said State Rep. Ras Smith of Waterloo. “The people that work at Tyson have put their lives at risk for the last nine months and some have lost their lives. Instead of being treated with dignity and respect, leadership at Tyson treated them as less than human. I believe the behavior of senior level leadership at Tyson Foods to be undeserving of the trust of the people of Iowa and no longer warrants immunity nor protection from the Governor’s office. It is essential that they be held accountable for these egregious and vile actions.”
On Wednesday, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Tyson Foods that included allegations Tyson plant managers made bets on how many workers would contract COVID-19.
“As a state lawmaker, my job is to ensure that our state government is not complicit in this deplorable situation that puts innocent lives at risk. As of today, we do not know the answer to that question because Governor Reynolds is still keeping secret the role her administration played in the meat packing plant crises last spring,” added Smith. “It’s time for the Governor to come clean and finally make public the role her Administration played in this crisis.”
Last April, Rep. Smith and Rep. Timi Brown-Powers requested all communications in the Governor’s Office related to Tyson. The move came after the Reynolds Administration refused to release the number of COVID cases tied to the Tyson outbreak in Waterloo. An OSHA complaint was also filed, but later dismissed. Rep. Smith and Rep. Brown-Powers have since appealed this decision.
The public records request was originally made on April 20, but has still not been fulfilled by the Governor’s Office nearly 200 days later. A copy of the letter is attached.