Wayne Farms

To help with social distancing during the COVID pandemic, Wayne Farms placed dividers between work stations.

Workers at Wayne Farms in Albertville walked off the job Monday seeking better working conditions and wages.

More than 100 workers left their production line Monday at about 12:30 p.m., going to the nearby human resources and wellness center to protest.

Workers said they were only asking to be treated fairly, given the number of hours they put in weekly due to a shortage of workers.

“I’ve worked here 10 years and I know how to do everything,” said Izabela Jose. “All we want is a raise ... because second shift isn’t working right now because there aren’t enough workers. We are doing double jobs.

“We want to be treated fairly. Our regular shift went from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to now it is

7:30 to 4:50. We also work every Saturday. We just want to be able to spend time with our families.”

Workers also complained about some of the production lines being run faster than ever before to make up for the closed second shift.

“People are getting hurt,” Jose said. “Their hands hurt. They are given dull knives.

“Management needs us but we need them to help us.”

Workers pledged to remain off the job until a resolution was found.

“We have tried to speak to managers before,” Jose said. “We should be in the plant working our shift right now. But because we are here, waiting, our line is shut down. We might get in trouble or lose our jobs over this. 

“But we aren’t leaving until we get answers.”

Frank Singleton, spokesman for Wayne Farms, said the root of the problem is a labor shortage felt across the country, impacting every line of work.

“The labor shortage has impacted Wayne Farms like any other business,” he said. “We have been forced to schedule some overtime and weekend shifts as a result.

“We will continue to work with our employees, union leaders and management staff to resolve future scheduling issues.”

Just after 2 p.m. workers got word of a partial compromise. Jose said workers will return to their original shift of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and would be asked to work every other Saturday.

Pay raises remained under negotiation, she said. No word of whether line speeds would slow down or not, she said. Singleton said these “are extraordinary times.”

“We appreciate our workers and our growers ... North Alabama is a significant part of Wayne 

Farms’ operations,” Singleton said. “We are glad to be able to work things out.

“We are always open to discuss any issues with our team members, union leaders and management.”

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