Tyson Foods is going to require all its U.S. office staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, 2021 — all other employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021. The company is even offering a $200 incentive to fully vaccinated frontline workers.
According to a news release from Michigan Farm Bureau, this action would make Tyson Foods the largest U.S. food company to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire workforce.
The decision comes a year after Tyson endured rocky moments amid the heights of the pandemic. As early as April 2020, major processing operations were disrupted, to the point where Tyson took out a full-page in The New York Times warning of meat shortages nationwide. Later in 2020, seven plant management employees in Iowa were fired over allegations that they were betting on how many employees would contract the coronavirus.
Almost half of Tyson Foods’ U.S. workforce has now been vaccinated, and coronavirus infection rates among team members remain low, according to a Tyson media statement.
Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock Specialist Ernie Birchmeier anticipates additional companies within the food processing industry will follow suit.
“In 2020, we saw the negative impact of processing plant closures on our farm operations and to U.S. consumers who saw empty store shelves for the first time,” Birchmeier said. “Maintaining a healthy workforce is critical to our overall food production system, whether it be at the farm, processing, distribution or retail level.”
In a letter to employees, Tyson President and CEO Donnie King said the company did not take the decision lightly but cited the fact that new variants of COVID-19 are more contagious, more deadly, and responsible for the escalation of new cases in America.