A major union and three large automakers announced an agreement this week that includes not mandating COVID-19 vaccination.
Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis are asking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to share whether they’ve had a shot, but are not requiring them to do so at this time, the four parties announced in a joint statement.
“In addition to encouraging members to disclose their vaccination status, the task force continues to urge all members, coworkers, and their families to get vaccinated and get booster vaccinations against COVID-19, while understanding that there are personal reasons that may prevent some members from being vaccinated, such as health issues or religious beliefs,” the statement said.
The parties together formed what they called the COVID-19 Joint Task Force to hammer out a pact concerning COVID-19 vaccines and related matters.
The task force is requiring all workers to wear masks, citing the spread of the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and “recent data outlining the continued high rate of transmission in some geographic areas.”
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are down significantly nationwide from the fall peak, but have risen in some regions. Michigan, where all three automakers have factories, has seen its metrics jump to the highest in the nation in recent weeks.
“One of the best ways to fight this virus is by getting as many people as possible vaccinated. The more UAW members, coworkers, and their families are vaccinated and have boosters, the quicker this deadly pandemic can be vanquished,” the task force said.
Officials said they’ll continue monitoring the situation, including keeping tabs on federal guidelines and rules.
The Biden administration earlier this month announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all private businesses with 100 or more employees, to go into effect in early January 2022, but that mandate was blocked for now by a federal court over concerns it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The administration on Tuesday asked judges to remove the block.
UAW represents some 400,000 members, though some work for companies outside the three automakers.
When President Joe Biden in September first announced strict vaccine mandates on federal workers and contractors and private employees, the UAW said it was reviewing the details. In a statement after the private business mandate details were unveiled, the union said that it continued to encourage members to get vaccinated “but understands that in some cases health related and religious related issues do not make that possible.”
UAW has said it is not tracking how many members get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Ford and Stellantis previously required salaried employees not represented by a union to get vaccinated. General Motors has required those employees to disclose their vaccination status but has not imposed a mandate.