Tyson Foods Reaches 91% Vaccination Rate Following Mandate

This month, Mr. Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to order large employers to make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory. Tyson expects that when OSHA outlines more details and a timeline for mandates, which could take weeks, more companies will announce vaccine requirements. When that happens, the options will be limited for those who quit (or are let go) rather than get a shot.

While companies await further guidance from the Biden administration, advisers are looking to details released by the White House on its mandate for federal contractors for clues. That mandate, outlined last week, will apply to employees working both remotely and in the office. It will also allow for “limited” exceptions.

Organized labor, which has tentatively welcomed Mr. Biden’s mandate, has become a crucial ally in efforts by firms like the Walt Disney Company and AT&T to vaccinate their workers. Tyson said it had been able to negotiate an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents several thousand of its workers, to endorse the mandate in return for more benefits for all workers, like paid sick leave.

“Certainly having the union endorse our vaccination requirement means a lot, both to the company and to our team members who are part of the union,” Dr. Coplein said.

Tyson said about 91 percent of its 31,000 unionized employees were vaccinated, matching the company’s overall rate.

One of the company’s poultry plants achieved a 100 percent vaccination rate, from 78 percent before, after Covid hit close to home. A viral video about Caleb Reeves, a young Arkansas man who died of Covid, helped to highlight the risk of the virus to young people, “and we have many young frontline workers,” Dr. Coplein said. Mr. Reeves’s uncle worked at a Tyson plant, and the video “gave them a personal connection to say, ‘Hey, that could be my family, too,’” she said.

The vaccine mandate was part of Tyson’s larger effort to confront the virus, which ravaged its work force early in the pandemic. Meat processors faced criticism last year for a lack of worker protections amid outbreaks in many factories. A number of workers died after the virus swept through processing plants, causing illness and closures.

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