The union representing Tyson Foods meatpacking workers expressed concern Tuesday at the company’s vaccine mandate announced earlier that day.
The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the United States, said it supports and encourages workers to get vaccinated.
However, UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement that it is “concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine.”
He added that the FDA must fully approve the vaccines and “help address some of the questions and concerns that workers have.”
All three Covid-19 vaccines currently have emergency use authorization from the FDA. An FDA official told CNN last week as part of the emergency use authorization granted last year, the vaccines have already undergone a “thorough scientific evaluation” in order to “meet FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.”
Another sticking point: the union stressed that employers should provide paid time off so essential workers don’t need to sacrifice pay to get vaccinated.
Paid time off would ensure workers “can rest as needed while their body adjusts to the vaccine and strengthens their immune system to fight off the virus,” Perrone said.
UFCW said it will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss the vaccine mandate, making sure the rights of workers are protected and the policy is fairly implemented. The union represents 24,000 Tyson meatpacking workers in the United States.
“UFCW has made clear that this vaccine mandate must be negotiated so that these workers have a voice in the new policy,” Perrone said.
Earlier Tuesday, Tyson Foods announced that employees at its US offices will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The company behind Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean said all other workers will need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1, subject to negotiations with unions.