WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- After already announcing a vaccine mandate for workers, Tyson Foods announced increased benefits for fully vaccinated workers in the U.S. on Friday.
Starting January 1, 2022, fully vaccinated employees can begin earning "up to 20 hours of paid sick leave per year." New employees will also receive one week of vacation after six months of employment.
“These measures are the latest examples of our ongoing efforts to make Tyson the most sought-after place to work, while reinforcing the importance team members’ health and safety,” Johanna Söderström, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer said.
Those other measures include a vaccine mandate the company announced for employees last month. Other than for medical or religious exemptions, all Tyson employees will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by November 1. As of Friday, more than 90,000 of the company's U.S. workers (more than 75%) have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That's an increase of about 34,000 since the company announced its vaccine requirement in early August.
Tyson continues to provide free COVID-19 vaccination on-sites. Vaccine clinics are scheduled throughout the country to offer all team members the vaccine in time for the November 1 deadline. The company is also giving $200 to fully vaccinated frontline workers. Tyson is also conducting an outreach campaign to educate employees about the vaccines.
The United Food and Commercial Workers is also voicing its support for Tyson's vaccine incentives after previously expressing concerns when the vaccine mandate was announced.
“As the largest union for Tyson Foods workers across the country, UFCW's first priority is to keep these essential workers safe on the job as the COVID-19 Delta surge continues, and we recognize the need to do more," UFCW International President Marc Perrone said. "UFCW and Tyson agree these policies will ensure these workers have the paid leave they need as they continue to keep our food supply chain secure. We will continue to strongly encourage our members employed by Tyson Foods to get vaccinated if they have not already, and we are calling on companies across the industry to follow Tyson's lead with similar policies that put the safety of essential workers first as this pandemic continues."
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is also voicing its support for the vaccine mandate. Together, the two unions represent more than 80% of the 31,000 Tyson Foods’ workers in the U.S. who are unionized.
“We’re pleased that the UFCW and RWDSU are joining us in taking this important step,” Söderström said. “Getting vaccinated remains the single most effective thing we can do to fight this pandemic and continue to help feed this country and our world.”
Tyson is also providing paid administrative leave for up to two weeks for employees who are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 over the next six months. They're also compensating workers for time spent in educational sessions about the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Health officials in Black Hawk County noted the first spike of COVID-19 cases was the result of an outbreak at the Tyson plant in Waterloo. Issues within the plant developed to the point where seven supervisors were fired and wrongful death lawsuits were filed.
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