Sep 7, 2021 - News
Tyson Foods raises starting pay for frontline workers to $15.20 an hour
Illustration of a dollar sign with an arrow for a middle bar over a grid.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Springdale-based Tyson Foods announced Tuesday it increased wages for its hourly workers starting Sept. 5, including for those who work in poultry plants in NWA.

What's happening: Starting pay is now $15.20 an hour, up from $12.50 an hour, spokesperson Derek Burleson told Axios. That's a 21.6% increase.

  • Tyson also increased its premiums on second and third shifts to $2 more an hour, up from 40 and 50 cents more an hour. That means people who work those shifts will make at least $17.20 an hour.
  • New employees are also eligible for $1,000 sign-on bonuses, according to a company news release.

Why it matters: You need more than $12.50 an hour to live in NWA. As we reported a week ago, the living wage for a single adult with no children in Northwest Arkansas is $13.76 an hour, according to MIT's Living Wage Calculator. To no one's surprise, you need more than that to support a family.

  • The wage hike will affect more than 3,000 workers in Benton and Washington counties, Burleson says.

Driving the news: The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Tyson planned to raise wages to combat absenteeism and worker turnover.

Context: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, a number that hasn't changed since 2009. But Arkansas' minimum wage is $11 an hour and nationally more companies are raising their starting wages to around $15 an hour.

  • Tyson appears to be on a roll updating its employee policies and benefits. The company recently announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all employees.
  • It's also offering paid sick leave to its frontline workers for the first time. Fully vaccinated frontline workers can receive up to 20 hours of paid sick leave per year beginning Jan. 1.

Editor's note: Axios NWA Reporter Worth Sparkman is a former employee of Tyson Foods.

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