Cellphone video shows dozens of employees walking out of the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley on Friday afternoon as part of an allegedly spontaneous walkout over compensation.
"The message is that they are essential workers, they are hard workers and they need to be taken care of," said Rhonda Solis of the Latino Coalition of Weld County, a group unaffiliated but supportive of the workers at JBS. "I think it is a really hard courageous decision for these workers to walk off of a line."
Employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, say that they are seeking higher pay, especially amid a global pandemic that has taken a toll on the workers at the plant.
"Today everybody just took it upon themselves. They just wanted to be heard," one employee said.
"We demand - we want fair wages. We are working our butts off over there," explained another.
The employees also said that they may not be allowed back to work.
"They took our ID’s," one employee said. "We are supposed to go to work tomorrow and we will wait outside."
The major union that represents JBS workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, said in a statement that the chapter "was not involved and continues to gather the facts as to what occurred."