The Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, shown in a file photo. CREDIT KCRG-TV9


By CBJ News Staff

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced agreements on March 26 to boost pay and benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic for its members at Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, and at several other Iowa meatpacking and food processing companies.

Quaker employees represented by UFCW will receive an extra two weeks of paid leave for coronavirus-related absences. They will also receive childcare assistance equal to at least two-thirds of their pay for up to 12 weeks, or a $100 daily reimbursement if they have children in schools that are closed.

Food processing workers have continued to be at work in spite of the coronavirus outbreak. Quaker Oats reported on March 25 that an employee at its Cedar Rapids plant tested positive for COVID-19, triggering quarantines and deep cleaning.

The new pay agreements will help preserve the nation’s food supply during the pandemic, UFCW officials said in a news release.

“These wage and benefit increases will not only protect the health and welfare of these hardworking men and women, they will help ensure all of America’s families have the food they need to overcome the public health crisis our nation faces,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a news release.

Additional deals were struck to improve wages and/or benefits for workers at certain Cargill, Kraft Heinz, Danone North America, Hormel, JBS, Maple Leaf Foods and National Beef facilities. Some of the agreements provide for $2 hourly wage increases during periods generally beginning in mid-March and ending in early May, while others provide for a one-time cash bonus for working through the period.

In addition, several agreements call for a waiver of health insurance copayments for medical care received for coronavirus cases. CBJ