Aug 3 - Tyson Foods Inc said on Tuesday that it is requiring COVID - 19 vaccinations for its workforce but is still negotiating with labor unions over mandates for unionized plant workers, who are among the meat company's highest-risk employees.
Rival meatpacker JBS USA said it is talking with unions about the possibility of requiring vaccines for employees.
Surging COVID - 19 cases and new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends fully vaccinated individuals wear masks have led companies to rethink their policies.
COVID - 19 infections passed to meat plants last year, sickening and killing workers and prompting companies like Tyson and JBS to temporarily close slaughterhouses.
About one third of Tyson's hourly workforce, more than 30,000 people, is represented by unions including the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Teamsters and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
Our intent to require our unionized team members to be vaccinated is subject to completing negotiations with Tyson Foods.
Meat plants that account for about 80% of U.S. beef and pork production and 40% of poultry production belong to the UFCW union, America's largest meatpacking union Tyson is headquartered in Arkansas and has thousands of employees in the state, which has become a hotspot for new cases.
More than 56,000 Tyson employees out of 120,000 in the United States have been vaccinated, according to the company, representing less than half of its workforce.
By comparison, JBS USA said about 70% of its workers are vaccinated. The company started offering $100 for employees to get shots in January.
Tyson said it will start paying $200 to frontline employees vaccinated, subject to negotiations with union officials.
Walmart and Walt Disney have also imposed vaccination requirements on employees.