Covid vaccine mandate led to 96 percent of Tyson workers getting the shot, company says

OMAHA, Neb. — Meatpacking big Tyson Meals says greater than 96 p.c of its staff have been vaccinated forward of the corporate’s Nov. 1 deadline for them to take action.

The corporate based mostly in Springdale, Arkansas, mentioned the variety of its 120,000 staff who’ve been vaccinated has practically doubled because it introduced its mandate on Aug. 3. At that time, solely 50 p.c of Tyson staff had been vaccinated.

“That is an unimaginable end result — not just for our firm, however in your households and our communities throughout the nation, ” Tyson President and CEO Donnie King mentioned in a word to staff Tuesday.

Tyson, which has lengthy been coping with employee shortages, mentioned staff who don’t get vaccinated earlier than the corporate’s deadline shall be fired, however that the previous staff shall be welcomed again in the event that they do get vaccinated later.

“I’d additionally prefer to say to those that stay unvaccinated — that is your alternative, and we respect that alternative,” King mentioned. “Should you change your thoughts and wish to rejoin Tyson — tell us. Our doorways are open.”

Spokesman Gary Mickelson mentioned only a few staff have left the corporate up to now due to the mandate.

The business was hit onerous by the pandemic within the spring of 2020 when the virus tore via meatpacking vegetation and compelled the short-term closure of lots of them as a result of so many staff grew to become sick or needed to quarantine. The United Meals and Business Employees Union mentioned at the least 132 of its members died from the virus through the outbreaks and one other 22,400 of them had been contaminated or uncovered.

King mentioned Tyson noticed a major decline within the variety of virus circumstances in its workforce as extra staff obtained vaccinated.

Tyson stays the one main firm within the meatpacking business to require vaccinations. The opposite meat giants reminiscent of JBS, Cargill and Smithfield Meals, have been counting on efforts to encourage staff to get vaccinated.

The UFCW union praised Tyson’s progress with vaccinations as a result of the mandate got here with an settlement to offer 20 hours of paid sick go away to all the corporate’s staff. The mandate additionally included exceptions for medical and spiritual causes, nevertheless it wasn’t instantly clear what number of of these exceptions Tyson granted.

“We urge each firm, throughout this nation, to do what is correct by their frontline staff and work cooperatively with their unions and staff to assist finish this pandemic and hold all of America’s important staff and their households protected,” UFCW President Marc Perrone mentioned.

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