On Sept. 3, the UFCW and Tyson Foods announced the first national U.S. agreement to provide paid sick leave to the company’s meatpacking workers as part of the union’s negotiations with the company over its new vaccine mandate. The UFCW represents 26,000 Tyson Foods workers across the country and is calling for similar paid sick leave policies from all companies across the meatpacking industry to ensure more frontline workers can get the vaccine without fear of losing a paycheck.
Under this new agreement, Tyson Foods workers will be able to earn up to 20 hours of paid sick leave. In addition, the Tyson Foods vaccine mandate will now provide precautions and safeguards for medical, religious, and other protections. Of the company’s 120,000 U.S. workers, more than 75 percent of Tyson Foods workers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and over 30,000 Tyson Foods workers have been vaccinated since the company announced its new vaccine mandate in early August.
“As the largest union for Tyson workers across the country, the UFCW’s first priority is to keep these brave men and women safe on the job as the COVID-19 Delta surge continues,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “Since the vaccines were first approved, the UFCW has played a leading role in helping to vaccinate many of its 1.3 million essential workers in meatpacking plants, grocery stores, and other frontline businesses.”
“Today, the UFCW is pleased to join Tyson in announcing the first national agreement to provide paid sick leave to American meatpacking workers,” Perrone said. “Paid sick leave is critical to ensuring workers can get vaccinated without losing a paycheck. As part of this deal, the UFCW has ensured that Tyson’s vaccine mandate will be implemented fairly and protect the rights of workers by allowing for medical and religious exemptions where appropriate. Every company in America must follow Tyson’s lead and act now to guarantee paid leave to help even more of our country’s essential workers get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
“Vaccine mandates, like all COVID workplace safety policies, must be negotiated with workers to build the trust and strong consensus needed for these safeguards to be effective,” Perrone added. “This historic agreement helps to ensure policies like paid leave are not just helping us increase vaccinations during the pandemic, but are also permanent improvements that strengthen these jobs and protect these workers for years to come.”