Tyson Foods said Monday that it plans to spend roughly $50 million on year-end bonuses for over 80,000 hourly workers at its meatpacking plants that will give them between $300 and $700 apiece.
Those bonuses are on top of wage increases the company has approved at many of its plants as new contracts were negotiated over the past year. Tyson estimated that it has spent more $500 million on wage increases and other bonuses over the past year for the employees who kept its plants running throughout the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the $200 bonuses it paid to workers who got vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said that over the past year the total value of the wages and benefits its hourly workers receive increased to $24 an hour on average, up from an average of $22 an hour.
The figures released Monday don’t include bonuses and raises Tyson plans to pay its salaried employees.
Even with the higher wages and bonuses, Tyson said last month that it earned $3.06 billion during its fiscal year, up from $2.07 billion in 2020, as demand for its products remained strong and prices increased.
The meatpacking industry was especially hard hit by the virus that spread quickly through plants where workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder on production lines. A U.S. House report released this fall said that at least 59,000 meatpacking workers caught COVID-19 and 269 workers died when the virus swept through the industry. That estimate included workers at the largest meat companies, including Tyson, JBS, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef.