Tyson Foods is among the first U.S. corporations to require that all of its employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
All members of the Springdale, Ark.-based company’s leadership team are required to be vaccinated by September 24, 2021, remaining office workers by October 1, and its frontline workers by November 1.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families, and their communities,” said Claudia Coplein, MD, Tyson Foods’ chief medical officer, in a company statement. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”
As of early August, only about 50% of the company’s 56,000 employees have been vaccinated. In an effort to increase the numbers, the company has held more than 100 vaccination events so workers don’t need to miss work, and more are scheduled in the days and weeks ahead. To further incentivize its workers, Tyson Foods will offer a $200 bonus to all frontline workers who get vaccinated.
The company has been hit hard by COVID-19 throughout the pandemic with numerous instances of plant closings due to outbreaks. To combat the challenges, Tyson Foods has spent more than $700 million, including buying masks, face shields, and temperature scanners, installing protective barriers, and providing on-site testing and vaccinations. The company has also invested in educating its team members about the benefits of vaccination.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents nearly 24,000 Tyson meatpacking workers among its 250,000 members, was does not agree with the vaccination mandate. “While we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and have actively encouraged our members to do so, it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine,” according to a statement released on the union’s website. “As the union for Tyson meatpacking workers, UFCW has made clear that this vaccine mandate must be negotiated so that these workers have a voice in the new policy.”
UFCW will be meeting with Tyson representatives in weeks ahead to discuss ensure that the rights of workers are protected, and that the vaccination policy is fairly implemented.