ARLINGTON, Virginia — Tyson Foods, a meat processor, announced Tuesday that it will compel all of its U.S. employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccines, making it one of the first large employers of frontline workers to do so in the wake of the virus’s reappearance.
Microsoft also stated on Tuesday that, beginning in September, all workers, vendors, and visitors to its U.S. locations will be required to provide proof of immunization, following the lead of Google and Facebook. Microsoft announced that its planned return to the office has been pushed back from September to no early than October 4, while it would enable some workers to work from home, including parents of children who are not eligible for vaccinations.
While vaccination mandates have gained popularity among businesses, many of the companies that have adopted them have primarily office workers who are already generally vaccinated and are hesitant to work with those who aren’t.
Tyson, one of the world’s largest food businesses, has announced that members of its leadership team must be vaccinated by September 24 and the rest of its office staff must be vaccinated by October 1. Its frontline staff must be vaccinated by Nov. 1, according to the business, but the details are still being worked out with unions.
After staging more than 100 vaccination sessions since February, the firm claims that just under half of its U.S. staff — roughly 56,000 employees — have been vaccinated. The Springfield, Arkansas-based firm intends to continue holding these events and will award a $200 incentive to all frontline workers who receive the vaccination.
CEO Donnie King voiced concern about the spread of the delta strain in a message to workers, stating that the vaccine mandate was necessary to overcome ongoing aversion to vaccinations.
“This was not an easy decision for us to make. “We have spent months urging our team members to be vaccinated — now, less than half of our team members are vaccinated,” King stated. “We are taking this action today because nothing is more essential than the health and safety of our team members, and we appreciate the job they do every day to help us feed this country and the world.”
Tyson, whose trademarks include Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, has faced lawsuits from the relatives of some of its workers after devastating outbreaks of the virus at its factories. The firm claimed in a news release that the number of illnesses at its factory is now low after spending $700 million on worker safety.
Other firms, such as Amazon, Walmart, and large supermarket chains, have so far rejected to require vaccinations for their frontline staff, citing a desire to prevent a labor shortage and high employee turnover. Instead, awareness campaigns, bonuses, time off, and other incentives are being continued by the firms.
Vaccine requirements for employees are likewise rejected by several unions.
According to recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the emergence of the delta variety is driving some employers to reimpose mask regulations for workers, including those who have been vaccinated.
According to a decision issued Tuesday by a task committee of officials from the businesses and the United Auto Employees, unionized auto workers at three firms — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis — would have to return to wearing masks regardless of their immunization status. The action comes a little over a month after union employees who had been vaccinated were permitted to remove their masks.
The task committee wants all workers to be vaccinated so that mask regulations might be reduced in the future.
However, Brian Rothenberg, a spokesperson for the United Auto Workers, a union with 397,000 members, said the organization is opposed to vaccine mandates because some individuals have religious or health concerns about vaccines.
Despite this, stricter vaccination regulations are gaining popularity in restaurants, bars, and certain major entertainment enterprises, both for employees and consumers. Some companies, like the federal government and some state and local governments, are forcing unvaccinated workers to submit to weekly testing, although not as a blanket requirement.
Unvaccinated employees at MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas will have to pay $15 to be tested for the virus on-site, or get a test offsite and bring the findings in. Employees who have not been vaccinated will not be compensated for time spent in quarantine if they test positive for the virus, according to the firm.
MGM Resorts has held many immunization clinics and provided incentives to employees, such as draws for hotel stays and cash. However, in a letter to workers, President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle voiced his displeasure with the region’s low immunization rate and urged them to obtain the vaccinations.
Hornbuckle stated, “Our region’s poor vaccination rate is putting us back on the path to overcrowded hospitals, avoidable deaths, fewer tourists, and possibly furloughs and layoffs.” “That is something none of us desire.”