Tyson Foods Plans To Fire US Workers and Replace Them with 'Illegals'? (2024)

News

The company will be closing a pork plant in Iowa, but the rest of the claim is shaky.

Jack Izzo

Published March 20, 2024

Updated March 20, 2024

Tyson Foods Plans To Fire US Workers and Replace Them with 'Illegals'? (1)

Image courtesy of Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

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On March 15, 2024, the X (formerly Twitter) account @EndWokeness, which has over 2.4 million followers and is devoted to promoting conservative political memes and views, posted a graphic calling for a boycott of Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat-processing companies in the United States.

According to the text of the post, the boycott was justified because the company was "closing its facility in Perry, Iowa and laying off its 1,200 workers," whom it would replace by hiring "thousands of new illegals in states like New York."

Tyson Foods Plans To Fire US Workers and Replace Them with 'Illegals'? (2) (@EndWokeness / X)

To be crystal clear, the term "illegals," as used above, refers to asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants, many of whom do have work authorizations and are legally allowed to live in the country. However, the focus of this story is specifically Tyson Foods, not immigration policy in general.

Tyson Foods

As previously stated, Tyson Foods is one of the biggest meat-packing companies in the country, producing around 20% of the country's beef, pork and chicken, according to Tyson's website. The company has been headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, since its founding in 1935, but operates production plants all over the country and has a history of employing migrant workers.

The company recently said in an interview with Bloomberg (more on this later) that around 42,000 of its over 120,000 employees are immigrants. Tyson previously claimed that 60% of its hourly workforce was immigrants and refugees in an advertisem*nt for an event hosted by the nonprofit organization Jobs for the Future.

In a statement released on the company's website, Tyson described its hiring policies as follows:

Inrecent days, there has been a lot of misinformation in the media about our company, and we feel compelled to set the record straight.Any insinuation that we would cut American jobs to hire immigrant workers is completely false.

Tyson Foods is strongly opposed to illegal immigration, and we led the way in participating in the two major government programs to help employers combat unlawful employment, E-Verify and the Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program.

Since being founded in 1935 in Arkansas, Tyson Foods has created jobs and employed millions of people in states all across America, the majority of whom are American citizens. Today, Tyson Foods employs 120,000 team members in the United States,all of whom are required to be legally authorized to work in this country. We have a history of strong hiring practices, and anybody who is legally able is welcome to apply to open job listings.

The Perry, Iowa, Plant Closing

On March 11, 2024, the company announced that it would be permanently closing its pork plant in Perry, Iowa, on June 28. According to reporting from the Des Moines Register, Tyson, the largest employer in the town, employs 1,276 people there, all of whom were expected to be out of work when the plant closes.

U.S. Census data shows that Tyson's workforce in Perry is more diverse than some would like to claim. The Des Moines Register wrote that "Nearly a third of the city's 8,000 people identify as Hispanic or Latino and that almost 19% are foreign born." Doing the math reveals that Perry, Iowa, has an immigrant population of around 1,520 people.

But the plan to close the Perry plant in 2024 was only half of the claim, and the much simpler half at that.

Tent Partnership

On the same day as the announcement, March 11, Bloomberg News posted an article titled, "Tyson Is Hiring New York Immigrants for Jobs No One Else Wants." This is where the other parts of the claim came from.

That article detailed Tyson's commitment to the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a nonprofit organization that "mobilizes the business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees all over the world," according to its website. The nonprofit, which was founded by Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, currently partners with over 250 large companies that make commitments to hire immigrants. Tyson committed to hiring "2,500 refugees over three years" in 2022, according to the Tent Partnership website.

The article highlights New York, which has experienced a large influx of migrants entering the United States (181,400 in a two-year span), and Tennessee, where Tyson hired 87 migrants in 2024. In other versions of the claim Snopes spotted spreading on social media, those two states were frequently mentioned:

The Bloomberg articlementioned above claimed that Tyson employs 42,000 immigrants, and follows up with a quote from Garrett Dolan, an associate director for human resources at Tyson.Dolan said that Tyson "would like to employ another 42,000 [immigrants] if we could find them." Later in the interview, he said he expected Tyson to hire 52,000 people (read: employees in general) in 2024 alone because of the meat-packing industry's very high employee turnover rate.

On March 13, 2024, Dolan's words were improperly combined in a Scripps News headline: "Tyson Foods wants to hire 52,000 asylum seekers for factory jobs."

Cue social media backlash in articles in the Daily Mail and the New York Post, coverage from Fox News and a conservative investment fund divesting from the company.

That Scripps News article was pulled on March 16, 2024, for "serious factual inaccuracies." (read: the headline). The Bloomberg News article, which did not claim that Tysonwillbe hiring 42,000 migrants for "jobs no one else wants," only that itwould liketo hire 42,000 migrants "if [Tyson] could find them" for "jobs no one else wants," is still publicly available.

In conclusion, the larger claims around Tyson are more convenience than causation. The company is planning to close the Perry, Iowa, plant, but implying that Tyson will "replace" those workers with undocumented immigrants is stretching the truth somewhat. Unrelated, the company is currently under investigation from the U.S. Labor Department because of a story published in New York Times Magazine claiming that at least one of Tyson's overnight cleaning subcontractors employed migrant children as young as 13 years old.

Sources

Dreier, Hannah, and Meridith Kohut. "The Kids on the Night Shift." The New York Times, 19 Sept. 2023. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/18/magazine/child-labor-dangerous-jobs.html.

"Hamdi Ulukaya." The Tent Partnership for Refugees, https://www.tent.org/hamdi-ulukaya/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/EndWokeness/Status/1768589814260015610." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/EndWokeness/status/1768589814260015610. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/ImMeme0/Status/1768611945416991138." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/ImMeme0/status/1768611945416991138. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MarshaBlackburn/Status/1769780534429847701." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MarshaBlackburn/status/1769780534429847701. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Immigration. https://www.tysonfoods.com/news/viewpoints/immigration. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

JFF & Tyson Foods: Investing in Frontline Workers. https://info.jff.org/tysonwebinar. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Kim, Juliana. "Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods under Federal Inquiry over Reports of Illegal Child Labor." NPR, 25 Sept. 2023. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2023/09/25/1201524399/child-labor-perdue-farms-tyson-foods-investigation.

"Marshallese in Arkansas." MEI Website, https://www.mei.ngo/marshallese-in-arkansas. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Nerozzi, Timothy. "Tyson Foods Hoping to Hire Thousands of Migrants for Labor-Manufacturing Jobs: Report." FOXBusiness, 16 Mar. 2024, https://www.foxbusiness.com/fox-news-us/tyson-foods-hoping-hire-40000-asylum-seekers-immigrants-labor-manufacturing-jobs.

Nerozzi, Timothy, and Fox Business. Tyson Foods Hoping to Hire over 40K Immigrants for Labor-Manufacturing Jobs: Report. 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.foxbusiness.com/fox-news-us/tyson-foods-hoping-hire-40000-asylum-seekers-immigrants-labor-manufacturing-jobs.

Our History. https://www.tysonfoods.com/who-we-are/our-story/where-we-came-from/our-history. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Reinl, James. "Tyson Foods Sacks Iowa Staff, Offers Job-and-Lawyer Deal to Migrants." Mail Online, 15 Mar. 2024, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13201583/Americas-meat-poultry-firm-BOYCOTTED-sacks-1-300-staff-Iowa-pork-plant-offers-job-lawyer-packages-bid-hire-42-000-asylum-seekers-New-York.html.

Revell, Eric. "Conservative Investment Fund Divests from Tyson Foods over Migrant Hiring." FOXBusiness, 18 Mar. 2024, https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/conservative-investment-fund-divests-from-tyson-foods-over-migrant-hiring.

"Scripps News Retraction Regarding Tyson Foods." Scripps News, https://scrippsnews.com/stories/tyson-foods-wants-to-hire-52-000-asylum-seekers-for-factory-jobs/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Slaughterhouse Cleaning Company Employed Children: How Hiring Went Wrong | 60 Minutes. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyT2rT2t2T0. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

Sparkman, Worth. "Conservative Investor Drops Tyson Foods over Immigration Flap." Axios NW Arkansas, https://www.axios.com/local/nw-arkansas/2024/03/19/conservative-investor-tyson-foods-immigration.

"Tent Partnership for Refugees." The Tent Partnership for Refugees, https://www.tent.org/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"The Tyson Plant in Perry, Iowa, Is Closing after 61 Years. What We Know about Its Plans." The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2024/03/12/why-is-tyson-foods-closing-its-perry-iowa-pork-plant-what-we-know/72934600007/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"Tyson." The Tent Partnership for Refugees, https://www.tent.org/partner/tyson/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

"Tyson Is Hiring New York Immigrants for Jobs No One Else Wants." Bloomberg.Com, 11 Mar. 2024. www.bloomberg.com, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-03-11/tyson-is-hiring-new-york-immigrants-for-jobs-no-one-else-wants.

Tyson Uses Migrants to Fill Unpleasant Jobs. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlIHBmpqxJk. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Writer, Andrew Stanton Weekend Staff. "Tyson Foods Faces Boycott after Report Claims Company Hires Migrants." Newsweek, 15 Mar. 2024, https://www.newsweek.com/tyson-foods-migrants-boycott-1879615.

Updates

This story was updated to include the full public statement provided by Tyson Foods.

By Jack Izzo

Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.

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Tyson Foods Plans To Fire US Workers and Replace Them with 'Illegals'? (2024)

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