Tyson Foods will provide vaccinated front-line workers with up to 20 hours of paid sick leave as part of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the company announced Friday.
The new policy is the first national U.S. agreement to provide paid sick leave to meatpacking workers, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which helped negotiate the deal on behalf of 26,000 Tyson workers.
“Paid sick leave is critical to ensuring workers can get vaccinated without losing a paycheck,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement Friday.
The food workers union on Friday urged all companies in the meatpacking industry — which has been hit hard by COVID-19 outbreaks — to implement a similar policy.
“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,” Perrone said.
The sick leave measure will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. Last month, Tyson announced that all of its U.S. employees must be vaccinated by this fall.
Tyson said Friday that more than 75 percent of the company’s U.S. employees are vaccinated. About one-third of its vaccinated employees got the shot after Tyson announced its vaccine mandate.
The company has offered various rewards to fully vaccinated workers, including a $200 reward and a chance to win $10,000 once a week.
“Getting vaccinated remains the single most effective thing we can do to fight this pandemic and continue to help feed this country and our world,” Johanna Söderström, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Tyson, said in a statement Friday.
Tyson has come under fire following COVID-19 outbreaks at several of its meatpacking plants and the revelation that Tyson supervisors at a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, placed bets on how many workers would contract the virus. Tyson fired seven managers at the plant in December following an independent investigation.