Misleading hiring claim sparks Tyson Foods boycott posts

Online posts claim Tyson Foods plans to hire 52,000 migrants after laying off 1,200 American workers at an Iowa factory. This is misleading; the food processing firm expects to make thousands of hires to replace departing workers, with authorized refugees being among new staff in an industry that has high turnover.

"Tyson laying off 1,200 workers after closing its pork factory in Perry Iowa only later to announce 52,000 jobs for migrants," said Sean Duffy, co-host of Fox Business' "The Bottom Line" in a March 16, 2024 segment.

<span>Screenshot of a Fox Business segment on YouTube, taken March 26, 2024</span>
Screenshot of a Fox Business segment on YouTube, taken March 26, 2024

Similar false and misleading claims can be found on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X, some saying the brand plans to hire "illegal" workers.

The allegation sparked outrage among conservatives. Migration remains a hot issue in the presumptive2024 presidential election rematch between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The jobs claim led some people to pledge a boycott of Tyson Foods.

The brand, one of the largest meat-packing companies, announced on March 11 that it would permanently close a pork plant in Perry, Iowa, in June, eliminating around 1,200 jobs.

On the same day, Bloomberg News reported the company "plans to hire about 52,000 people," while also mentioning that it works with the organization Tent Partnership for Refugees (archived here) which helps businesses with work visas, prompting many to misrepresent this figure as representing the number of migrants.

"Any insinuation that we would cut American jobs to hire immigrant workers is completely false," says a Tyson Foods statement published on its website (archived here).

The article does mention the company's efforts to retain immigrant workers, however, it does not say the company plans to hire 52,000 migrants. This figure represents a vacancy estimation due to the high turnover rate of factory workers and is not specific to the hiring of any one group.

In 2022, Tyson Foods made a three-year commitment to hire 2,500 refugees, according to Tent’s website. The company hired 17 asylum seekers in February and 70 more in March 2024, said Bloomberg.

Garret Dolan, associate director of human resources for Tyson Foods, told the outlet about the immigrants the company already employs saying, "We would like to employ another 42,000 if we could find them."

In the same article, he explains that the company expects 40 percent of the 100,000 factory workers to leave each year, which could lead to tens of thousands of vacancies in 2024. But he never said who would fill these roles.

These statements were also misrepresented in a now-retracted March 13 Scripps News article headlined "Tyson Foods wants to hire 52,000 asylum seekers for factory jobs," citing "serious factual inaccuracies." (archived here).

And neither refugees nor those seeking asylum are working in the United States "illegally" as many posts suggest.

"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," the statement says. It adds that the company participates in E-Verify and the Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program to confirm employment eligibility (archived here and here).

A refugee approved under humanitarian grounds may legally work as soon as arriving in the United States. Vetting and approval for this status is done through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services before an individual is permitted to enter the country (archived here).

Asylum seekers can typically obtain a work permit 180 days after filing an asylum application (archived here). Noncitizens are generally presumed ineligible for asylum if they enter the United States without authorization, however, there are some exceptions (archived here).

AFP reached out to Tyson Foods for additional information, but a response was not forthcoming.

Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation surrounding migration here.