Democrats call for extended jobless benefits for workers to be laid off once Tyson’s Perry plant closes

DES MOINES — Senate Democrats are proposing an extension of unemployment benefits for workers at a Perry pork plant who’ll be laid off at the end of June. Tyson announced earlier this week it will close the plant, which employs nearly 13-hundred people and is Perry’s largest employer.

Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque says she has an inkling of what’s ahead for Perry.  “About 20 years ago Smithfield came in and bought out the Dubuque Packing Company and threw 2000 workers out of work and it took our community many, many years to recover from that plant closing,” Jochum says, “so I do know how difficult this is and how difficult it’s going to be for Perry to overcome the many challenges they’re going to be facing.”

In 2022, Governor Reynolds signed a law that reduced the number of weeks Iowans are eligible for unemployment benefits from 26 to 16 weeks. Jochum and other Senate Democrats are proposing that those who lose their jobs due to a plant closure — like the workers in Perry — should be eligible for up to 39 weeks of unemployment.  “We, as Democrats, stand with Perry and the Iowans losing their jobs and their livelihoods because of Tyson’s decision,” Jochum says. “The effects of this closure are going to touch every corner of Dallas County, from schools to city services to Main Streets and beyond and it’s going to all of us working together to meet these challenges and keep Perry strong.”

The Senate’s Republican leader says he can’t comment on Jochum’s proposal because he hasn’t seen it and hasn’t had a chance to review its impact. Tyson is encouraging its employees in Perry to apply for job openings at its other meat packing plants in Iowa.