Refresco, a beverage manufacturer in Fort Gibson, has had three employees come down with COVID-19, yet the plant continues to press ahead with workers in close proximity operating with minimal precautions each day, according to numerous employees who have complained.
The company, which employs around 200 people in Muskogee, has not confirmed that number and has not returned calls for comment.
The company did, however, tell employees it has had three cases of the virus.
“They know” one employee is immunocompromised, according to the employee’s significant other. “That company has no way to distance from each other and it is not doing anything to make sure other employees are safe.”
“There is no way you can keep six feet apart and still do your job,” one employee complained. “It took them 11 days to even tell us about the first (case).”
Two employees said the company has expressly forbidden employees from talking “to the media” about the infections and conditions at the plant.
“They provide masks every morning, and we have to wear safety glasses, hair net and ear plugs,” one employee said. “But that’s normal stuff, and everyone is on top of everyone else.”
If the company responds to the request for comment, we will post its answers here. If the request got lost in the matrix of corporate voicemail, MuskogeeNOW can be contacted at 918-869-1482 or email@example.com.
To a person, the employees who complained expressed fear that they would be summarily fired for talking to MuskogeeNOW about their situations, so their names have been omitted from this story. However, we did verify that they were in positions to know what they were talking about.
UPDATE: A former management employee emailed MuskogeeNOW after this story was published. The ex-employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the company does not enforce its existing social distancing and personal protective equipment guidelines and has even terminated several employees who chose to self-quarantine after showing symptoms. The employee said changes in the plant only occur after extreme measures, such as threatening to contact government oversight authorities to ensure worker and food safety.