"Nobody bet on how many Team Members would become sick,” says former Waterloo Tyson plant manager, Tom Hart.
In his first public comments since being fired by Tyson after 26 years, Hart said, “I see that all over every headline of every newspaper. I hear it on the news. That is inaccurate.”
Hart made the comments during a Zoom interview for KWWL's The Steele Report, which aired this morning on KWWL-TV.
Hart, and former Waterloo Tyson night manager, Don Merschbrock, also fired by Tyson, say the pool never existed in the way it has been portrayed in thousands of news stories across the country.
The alleged 'betting pool” led to an internal Tyson investigation, headed by former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder.
Based on the report, Tyson fired seven Waterloo managers, including Hart and Merschbrock, who admit they created a spontaneous, $5.00 office pool, but that it was never about betting on how many employees would get COVID.
Their office pool, they insist, lasted just ten minutes, and was a simply a conversation among the managers about the completion of a exhaustive mitigation effort inside the plant. Hart says says they believed their COVID mitigation efforts in the plant would be more successful than what was being done across the community at the time.
Of the office pool, Merschbrock says, "We did have a pool. And, it was a pool saying our results, as far as positive cases, would be better than the community. It had nothing to do with how many people got sick or anything. We thought we did a really good job, and we thought our positive rate would b better than what was out in the community, because of all the mitigation we put forward to keep everybody safe."
Hart added, “We did two types of testing. We did the virus testing and we did the serology. or the anti-body testing. What we were focused on was the virus testing, which, at the time, was better than the community,” he claimed.
They had just completed several days of virus and serology testing at the Waterloo plant, where more than a thousand workers tested positive and four died. Waterloo is Tyson's largest facility, employing some 2,800 workers.
The alleged betting pool was one of 162 allegations made in a wrongful death lawsuit, filed on behalf of Tyson Waterloo employees who died.