JBS cyberattack: Meat producer will be back up and running Wednesday after its hack. But for some employees, that’s too late
Washington (CNN Business)Even as meat producer JBS resumed operations at many of its US beef plants nationwide Wednesday after a cyberattack shut down all beef production at facilities around the nation this week, workers like Erika Gutierres remain worried what the disruption might mean for their paychecks.
A single mom, Gutierres works on the killing floor at JBS’s facility in Cactus, Texas, handling beef hearts, livers, tails and intestines. After receiving text messages from her employer saying to stay home Tuesday, Gutierres now says the hackers caused more damage than they could know. But not to JBS’s operations — the company has said most of its plants will be back online on Wednesday, and later added that it is on schedule to resume production at all of its facilities on Thursday.Gutierres lives paycheck-to-paycheck, she told CNN in an interview, making $24 an hour, or about $800 a week after taxes. Now she fears falling behind on her rent, babysitting fees and gas expenses for her car, even with work resumption at the plants, because she’ll miss out on overtime. “I’m going to be short on all my bills, and that stresses me out and makes my life a lot harder.”
Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs at JBS USA, told CNN on Wednesday that unionized workers will receive at least 32 hours of pay this week in accordance with their contract and in spite of the cyberattack, and that employees should be receiving that information from local union officials.
“The minimum pay is guaranteed across all unionized plants, including Cactus, regardless of the attack,” Bruett said. “All of the company’s red meat plants are unionized.”Read MoreCelestino Rivera, an official at the local union office representing JBS’s Cactus employees, said the office is in “constant contact” with workers about the status of the plant and on reporting to work. Workers who experience any issues with hours or pay can file a grievance complaint, Rivera said. “This was a short-lived loss of hours and we have seen ice storms and power outages create similar issues for longer periods of time,” Rivera said, “and over the years have always managed to work it out and expect to do the same this time.”
The meat producer closed all nine of its US beef processing plants Tuesday following the cyberattack that took down its IT systems.
What the JBS cyberattack means for meat supplyFacebook pages purporting to represent several JBS beef facilities across various parts of the country indicated on later that normal business would soon resume.JBS operates beef plants in states including Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Utah, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the union official said. In a statement late Tuesday, JBS said “the vast majority” of its beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods operations would be running on Wednesday.”Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat,” said Andre Nogueira, the CEO of JBS USA. The company later said that it was “on schedule to resume production at all” JBS USA and Pilgrim’s facilities on Thursday. Nogueira added in a statement late Wednesday that “we anticipate operating at close to full capacity across our global operations tomorrow.”JBS did not respond to questions from CNN about the hackers’ demands or whether the company paid the ransom. On Wednesday afternoon, the FBI publicly attributed the JBS cyberattack to REvil, a ransomware gang that cybersecurity experts have said is likely based in Russia.
What it means for employees
Some employees may gain an extra Saturday shift to make up for this week’s downtime, Gutierres said, but by then the damage will have been done — and many of her fellow workers had already made family plans for the weekend, meaning the fallout from the hack may last much longer for some than it may seem to others.Bruett said the Saturday shifts had been scheduled in advance to account for the Memorial Day holiday, and are unrelated to the cyberattack.Gutierres said: “I am very grateful for everything JBS has done for me. JBS has given me a lot. But these hackers just messed up everything for me.”
Despite the disruption, the company and its workers are still in it together, Rivera said. “We are all working towards the final goal: To produce boxed beef and make money.”– Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.