Tyson Foods said it would require its 120,000 workers to get the COVID vaccine after its meatpacking plants were criticized as hot spots for infections early in the pandemic.
The company said only 56,000 of its employees had been vaccinated so far – for a rate of 46.6%. That compares to 50.2% of the US population as a whole that has a vaccine.
Front-line workers who comply with the rule will get $200, the company said, but The United Food and Commercial Workers that represents Tyson workers have opposed the mandate, saying that the vaccine still isn’t fully cleared by the FDA.
Tyson foods is requiring all 120,000 of its employees get vaccinated as COVID numbers continue to surge
The CDC has reported 66,000 new cases a day with peak infection rates higher than summer 2020: A Tyson Food
Front-line workers will get $200 for getting the vaccine but the UFCW warns that unvaccinated workers may reject the mandate as it is not FDA approved: A Tyson Foods employee puts on a second protective mask outside of the company’s meat processing plant
132 workers who belonged to United Food and Commercial Workers union died after contracting this past year after contracting COVID-19.
Marc Perrone, UFCW president, wrote in a prepared statement: ‘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.’
Tyson’s mandate comes as a growing list of companies such as Microsoft, Ford, and General Motors have also required employee vaccinations.
About a third of the companies on the Fortune 500 list of the US’s biggest companies are considering vaccine requirements, according to Fortune’s calculations. Only about 10 percent have actually put mandates into place, so far, though, the magazine reports.
Some companies have hesitated to mandate the vaccines while they’re technically still under ’emergency use authorization’ by the Food and Drug Administration. The process to fully approve the vaccines, stripping off the ’emergency use’ label could take into 2022, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But since the spread of the Delta variant, some companies are rethinking their hesitancy, according to benefits consultant Willis Towers Watson, the Journal reported.
And the US Equal Opportunity Commission said in May that federal law doesn’t prevent vaccine requirements – though some companies still worry about wading into a legally thorny issue, especially on a subject that has carve-outs for religious exceptions – and state-by-state rules.
Still, after the EEOC ruling, companies have been given a green light.
‘We’ll see more companies saying, ‘I’m going to require a vaccine before you can come into the workplace,’ Julie Stone, a health care practice leader at Willis Towers Watson, told Fortune.
Tyson said that they want front-line workers to be vaccinated by Nov. 1. Other employees of the company must also be vaccinated as the leadership team is required to get it by Sep. 24 and the rest of the office by Oct. 1.
In a memo to his employees, Tyson CEO Donnie King wrote: ‘It is abundantly clear that getting vaccinated is the single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.’
The need for vaccinated employees working in facilities like Tyson are crucial, considering that Tyson has tens of thousands of employees in some locations.
The Arkansas location, where the company is headquartered, has the biggest working population with 24,800 workers. Texas comes in second with nearly half these numbers as they have 12,100 workers.
According to Statista, Tyson is also considered to be the largest meat and poultry processor in the country as they accumulated $43 billion in sales.
Various Tyson locations have held vaccination events for workers and their family members in states such as Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
In their press release, Dr Claudia Coplein, Tysons Foods Chief Medical officer, said: ‘Tyson is a family company, and we know our team members want to ensure their families and those they live with are protected against the virus, so we’re pleased to start giving them access to our free, onsite vaccinations. We strive to be a valued partner in every plant community our team members call home. We know expanding access to the vaccine not only helps them and their loved ones but can have positive public health implications for the broader communities where we operate.’
Tyson Foods has heavily populated locations in states such as Arkansas, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska and Georgia
Vaccination sites were opened at Tyson Food locations to provide for workers and their families
COVID-19 vaccine mandates may actually boost rates because it ‘says the government supports vaccination,’ epidemiologist says
Cities and states that require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 may actually boost their immunization rates, a public health expert says.
This week, New York and California became the first states to mandate that public employees get COVID-19 shots or undergo weekly testing.
Dr Barun Mathema, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told ABC News that this strategy may be even more effective that the vaccine lotteries that several states attempted.
He says the programs will increase vaccine confidence and encourage workers to get their shots to avoid the hassle of weekly tests.
‘This is saying the government, unambiguously, supports vaccination. One can try things like lotteries to entice individuals but, to me, this is a serious and thoughtful approach,’ he told ABC News.
‘There will [also] certainly be some people who find the constant testing inconvenient.’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first leader in the country to announce that employees at public hospitals would need to get vaccinated before expanding the mandate to all city employees.
Hours later, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a similar rule, giving 249,000 state workers until August 9 to get the vaccine or get tested weekly.
On Wednesday, NYC’s order was extended throughout the state with Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing the state’s roughly 250,000 government workers have until Labor Day – September 6 – to get vaccinated or face weekly testing to continue working in their public sector jobs.
The company previously received criticism due to the COVID-related working conditions.
The complaints were that Tyson did not provide appropriate safety equipment and refused request to have the plant shut down.
It began getting lawsuits from families of workers after deadly outbreaks of the virus were spreading around work.
The infection rate at Tyson began to lower for them after they spent $700 million to safeguard their workers, according to their press release.
The company has invested in walk-through and work station dividers, social distance monitors and on-site testing.
It also has employed members for a health services staff to ensure safety in the workplace.
Meat and poultry packing districts like Tyson have been hit hard by the pandemic due to the poor health of workers and consistent temporary closures.
The headquarters, in Springdale, Arkansas, has seen significant rises in COVID cases due to the vaccination status of its residents.
Springdale is the fourth largest city in Arkansas and is between Washington and Benton counties.
37% of all residents in Washington County and 36% of all residents in Benton County are fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.
The CDC has reported 66,000 new cases a day and the peak of infection rates have been higher since summer 2020.
Companies are also beginning to reinforce masks regardless of vaccination status as the number have rose significantly this summer.
US employers offers incentives or even issue mandates to get workers vaccinated to get the country back to work
City of New York
Delta Air Lines (for new employees)
Saks Fifth Avenue
State of California
State of New York
United Airlines (for new employees)
The Washington Post Co.
OFFERING INCENTIVES FOR EMPLOYEES TO GET VACCINES:
ALDI groceries (Paid time off and adjusted hours to get vaccinated)
Amazon ($100 bonus for workers who show proof of vaccination on first day of employment)
Amtrak (two hours of bonus pay and excused absence)
American Airlines (additional paid vacation day in 2022 and a $50 bonus)
Bolthouse Farms ($500 bonus with proof of vaccination or if they get shot at on-site clinic)
Chobani (up to six hours of paid time off for employees to go get vaccinated)
Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden (four hours of paid time off to cover both doses of the vaccine)
Dollar General (one-time stipend equal to four hours of paid time off)
Instacart ($25 stipend to in-store employees and independent contractors)
JBS USA and Pilgrim’s ($100 bonus)
Kroger ($100 bonus with proof of vaccination as well as $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for essential and frontline staffers)
Lidl ($200 bonus and scheduling flexibility for vaccination appointments)
McDonald’s (up to four hours of paid time off to get the vaccine)
Publix ($125 gift cards for employees who show proof of vaccination)
Starbucks (up to four hours of paid time off for vaccine dosage appointments)
Target (up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine dosage and a $30 reimbursement for using a Lyft to get to their appointment)
Trader Joe’s (additional two hours of pay for each dose and scheduling flexibility)