When Costco decided to start selling meat and poultry from local farmers in its warehouses, it was an easy decision for the company to make, said Scott Daugherty, vice president of corporate communications at Costco Wholesale Corporation.
The company is an employee-owned business, so the workers at the Costco Wholsale warehouse work for the organization.
“The Costco Whole Foods warehouses are staffed by Costco employees and employees of other companies, so it’s a great way to connect with people who are in the same position, but may not have access to the same level of resources,” Daughey said.
Costco has been the leading meat-packing company in the United States since its founding in 1872.
According to the USDA, the meatpacking industry grew from 3,400 employees in 1980 to more than 35,000 employees in 2016, and it employs more than 15 million people.
Costco Wholks and the meatpackers it partners with are one of the largest employers in the U.S. and account for about 70% of all U.s. meat production.
The U. of A. Food and Agricultural Service has ranked Costco in the top 10 of the nation’s largest foodservice chains for years, according to the organization’s website.
Costco is the largest retailer in the Midwest, but its meat-processing plants in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota employ just 1% of the state’s workforce, according the USDA.
The meatpacking plant in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook is about one-quarter the size of Costco’s in-house meat processing facility.
Costco’s employees earn about $13.15 an hour, according a company statement.
“Our commitment to the workers is that if you’re a customer at Costco, we want you to feel like you’re part of the community, so if you see the difference in the way our customers feel about our employees and our products, you know it’s working,” Daughherty said.
“They feel like they’re contributing to the community.
We want to feel that.”
The Costco warehouse workers are compensated in addition to their normal wages.
Daugher said they have been paid about $1,400 in overtime pay since 2015, mostly for the extra work they do to prepare meat and other products for the warehouse.
The work takes about six weeks, and the paychecks are due in March or April each year.
Daughhey said Costco pays employees $1 per hour in tips.
“It’s not a lot, but it’s still a lot,” he said.
The Costco workers said they get about $100 per week for their work, but Daugitt said they’ve been told they would receive about $3,000 per year.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here,” Daurys said.
Dauries said Costco has offered workers the opportunity to transfer to other companies for higher wages.
The warehouse workers, who are members of the UAW Local 1221, said they hope the company will increase the pay they receive.
The union represents more than 12,000 workers at Costco warehouses.