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Union Organizing JBS Mass Vaccination Event: 'It's About Time They Are Prioritized'

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) - Thousands of workers at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley will soon have access to the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to an on-site mass vaccination event next week.

"It's about time they are being prioritized," said Kim Cordova, President of UFCW Local 7, a union that represents at least 3,000 JBS employees. "The Governor's office reached out to me, as well as the Colorado National Guard, to work together and coordinate this big effort to vaccinate this large workforce."

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Local 7 is organizing the two-day event on March 5 and March 6 at the plant.

"The workers will be scheduled by their lines, so they're going to run in shifts, and our goal is to vaccinate 300 and 350 workers per hour," Cordova told CBS4's Andrea Flores.

Six union members who worked at JBS died due to COVID-19. Five hundred union members have tested positive since the pandemic started.

"We're coming up on the one year anniversary of the first worker that died from COVID," Cordova said. "These workers have been through so much, and I can't express enough gratitude to the governor's office for making this happen."

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Plant operations will be shut down to vaccinate thousands of essential union and non-union employees.

"It was absolutely critical that this happened while they were at work on their job site, otherwise it would've been really hard to have these workers have access to the vaccine," said Cordova. "Transportation is an issue, and there are more than 38 languages spoken at that plant. We are working with all of the parties on translation, making sure that everybody has as much information so that they can to make an informed decision on whether they want the vaccine."

Cordova said JBS plans to pay employees for four hours of work on the day they go to the plant to get the vaccine. She says they hope to vaccinate between 3,000 and 5,000 employees, as long as they get enough vaccinations.

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