Bernie Sanders had some harsh words for the owner of Tyson Foods, who reportedly saw his own net worth increase by more than half a billion dollars during the pandemic while the coronavirus raged through his company’s facilities.
The Vermont senator took to Twitter this week to respond to a new lawsuit claiming that a manager at a Tyson Foods facility in Iowa took bets on how many of his meatpacking employees would contract the deadly virus. As NBC News reported, the suit was filed by the family of an employee at a pork processing facility who died earlier this year. It claims that Tyson transferred workers from a closed plant to one in Waterloo, Iowa, without properly testing them, which they say contributed to an outbreak within the building.
“Around this time, Defendant Tom Hart, the Plant Manager of the Waterloo Facility, organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19,” the suit claimed.
The new lawsuit claims that the local sheriff, Tony Thompson, met with health officials in April and was shaken by conditions within the building, where workers were together in tight spaces and few had face coverings. The lawsuit claim that Thompson tried to convince Tyson Foods to close the plant, but it would not.
Sanders slammed the company in a tweet this week, calling out John H. Tyson for significantly boosting his own net worth while having employees work in such conditions.
“While the owner of Tyson Foods became $600 million richer during the pandemic, 11,000 of his workers got COVID-19 because they were forced back to work in unsafe and unhealthy plants as managers placed bets on how many would get sick,” he tweeted. “We must end this disgusting corporate greed.”
Other have taken the company’s billionaire owner to task as well. The website Resilience, a program of the nonprofit Post Carbon Institute, focused in on Tyson in a report on those who have drastically increased their wealth during the pandemic.
Sanders has been focused on pushing for relief for average Americans hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and has spoken out against the wealth disparities that have grown during that time. As Newsweek noted, a study from the Institute for Policy Studies in conjunction with Bargaining for the Common Good and United for Respect found that the United States has 33 new billionaires since March, and that the combined wealth of the 647 billionaires in the country increased by almost $900 billion since that time.