Massive Meat Processing Company Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines For All Employees

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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Tyson Foods, one of the largest food and meat processing companies in the world, is requiring all employees to get the coronavirus vaccine by the fall.

All office employees of the Arkansas-based company have until Oct. 1, 2021 to get fully vaccinated, Tyson Foods said Tuesday. All other employees, such as factory and frontline workers, have until Nov. 1, 2021.

All new Tyson Foods employees must be fully vaccinated by their start date.

The introduction of a vaccine mandate makes Tyson Foods, which employs 139,000 people, the largest U.S. food company to implement such a policy, according to the announcement. Other massive U.S. employers have recently unveiled mandates of their own, including Disney, Walmart, Google, Facebook and Ascension Health.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” Tyson Foods Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claudia Coplein said in a 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,” she continued. (RELATED: Broadway Theaters Will Require Vaccine Proof, Masks For All Guests)

A man shops in the meat section at a grocery store in Washington, D.C. last year. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A man shops in the meat section at a grocery store in Washington, D.C., last year. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Since February, Tyson Foods has urged its workers to get vaccinated and hosted more than 100 “vaccine events,” according to the announcement Tuesday. Just over 40% of the company’s workforce has been vaccinated.

Overall, roughly 60% of all U.S. adults and 50% of the entire population have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated — today, under half of our team members are,” Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King said in a company-wide memo. “We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety.”

King added that all frontline team members will receive a $200 bonus once they are fully vaccinated.

Tyson Foods employees who are members of a union won’t be subject to any of the requirements until an agreement is reached between the two sides. More than 30,000 of the company’s employees are members of either the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Teamsters, or the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Reuters reported.

In addition to the companies that have issued vaccine mandates, cities, municipalities and at least one federal agency have introduced similar requirements for government workers. However, major unions representing the affected employees have pushed back against such policies.

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