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Tyson Foods announces vaccine mandate for its U.S. workforce

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Tyson Foods has announced that it will require its U.S. workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A memo from company President and CEO Donnie King to Tyson Foods team members states that leadership must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24, all office workers must be vaccinated by Oct. 1, and all other workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 1.

"Team members that are members of a union will be subject to the results of union bargaining on this issue," the memo says.

A news release noted that exceptions to the company's vaccination requirement will include individuals who pursue medical or religious accommodation.

"To our frontline team members: once you are fully vaccinated, and verified in our Vaccination Verification Program, you will receive $200 as thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe, subject to ongoing discussions with our unions," King's memo states.

"We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are. We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members' health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world," the memo declares.

The Associated Press reported the United Food and Commercial Workers criticized Tyson for instituting the mandate when coronavirus vaccines only have emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. UFCW International President Marc Perrone noted that the union will be meeting with Tyson to "ensure that the rights of these workers are protected, and this policy is fairly implemented," according to the outlet.

"While we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and have actively encouraged our members to do so, it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine," Perrone said in a statement, according to the AP.

Tyson has experienced COVID-19 outbreaks at some of its plants, according to the outlet.

Several lawsuits have also been brought against Tyson by the families of workers who died from the coronavirus.

In the news release about the vaccine mandate, Tyson said, "Almost half of Tyson Foods' U.S. workforce has been vaccinated and coronavirus infection rates among team members remain low."

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