The fire at Tyson Fresh Meats’ Holcomb plant has far-reaching implications. A major employer in the area, Tyson has been forced to idle the plant after the Friday blaze. Recovery and reconstruction efforts are beginning but will take an indeterminate amount of time. For agriculture producers, that causes hiccups in food supply chain that ultimately leads to consumers.
But more immediately, those affected are the 3,800 workers who make their living at the Tyson plant. And here we have to give major credit to the company. Tyson will continue paying all of its full-time workers for 40 hours a week throughout the process of reconstruction.
That’s critical, given the role of the plant — and Tyson — in the local economy. Without these wages, local businesses and governments would suffer. The workers themselves likely would be forced to take other jobs or relocate. The effects would be hugely destructive and have painful effects for years to come.
Paying these full-time workers makes abundant sense from a business perspective, too.
Tyson knows that it would be difficult to hire an entirely new workforce when the repairs at the plant finish. Even if a sufficient number could be found and brought on board, they would still need to be trained in the sometimes-difficult work.
We echo the comments of U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, who put it this way in a news release: “I want to thank Tyson for its commitment to rebuild its beef plant in Holcomb, Kan., following this weekend’s devastating fire. This is good news not only for the plant’s 3,500-plus employees but for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Tyson is a major employer in southwest Kansas, responsible for millions of dollars in payroll and economic impact annually.”
As Marshall noted, agricultural operations like the Tyson plant are an integral part of Kansas’ rural economy. Those in central or northeastern parts of the state might not always be cognizant of the outsized role such plants and jobs have for so many state residents. Put simply, they are pillars of their region, and of the state overall.
We trust that the Tyson Fresh Meats plant will be rebuilt even better than before, and that those thousands of employees go back to a safe and productive workplace. Kansas needs this kind of investment, both from corporations and from those who work for them.