The exterior of a Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen on May 1, 2020 in Wallula, Washington. Over 150 workers at the plant have tested positive for COVID-19, according to local health officials.
David Ryder | Getty Images
Meatpacker Tyson Foods announced Tuesday that it will require its 120,000 U.S. employees to be vaccinated fully this year and will pay them a $200 bonus to do so.
The company said 56,000 U.S. employees have been vaccinated. Office workers face a deadline of Oct. 1 to be vaccinated fully, while plant employees have until Nov. 1.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the seven-day average of new infections surpassed last summer’s peak, before the country had access to vaccines. U.S. Covid cases, based on a seven-day moving average, reached 72,790 on Friday, according to the agency’s data. The delta variant is fueling the surge in cases, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.
“It is abundantly clear that getting vaccinated is the single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” CEO Donnie King said in a memo to employees.
Tyson plans to give front-line workers who get vaccinated the $200 bonus, in addition to the current policy of providing up to four hours of pay for getting inoculated outside of work or through an external provider. The extra pay, as well as the deadline, are subject to talks with unions who represent those employees.
The company said it will allow exceptions to the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons.
Throughout the pandemic, many meat and poultry processing facilities have been forced to close temporarily after outbreaks of Covid-19 swept through their workforce. Conditions in the plants require employees to work closely together for hours at a time, making social distancing nearly impossible. Group housing and shared transportation to and from work also increase contact among workers.
As of July 30, at least 132 meatpacking workers who belonged to the United Food and Commercial Workers have died after contracting Covid according to the union.
Tyson Foods will require its 120,000 U.S. workforce to get vaccinated – CNBC