SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Foods is strengthening the benefits it is offering to fully vaccinated front-line workers in its US plants. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, fully vaccinated employees can begin earning up to 20 hours of paid sick leave and new hires will receive one week of vacation after six months of employment.
“These measures are the latest examples of our ongoing efforts to make Tyson the most sought-after place to work, while reinforcing the importance of team members’ health and safety,” said Johanna Söderström, the executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Tyson Foods.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union for 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers, including 26,000 Tyson Foods workers across the country, helped Tyson develop its new benefits package during its negotiation over the company’s new vaccine mandate. The company announced on Aug. 3 that it is requiring its leadership officers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24, its workers in office locations around the country by Oct. 1 and the rest of its employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. Tyson is the largest US food company to require its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Today, UFCW is pleased to join Tyson in announcing the first national agreement to provide paid sick leave to American meatpacking workers,” said Marc Perrone, UFCW international president. “Paid sick leave is critical to ensuring workers can get vaccinated without losing a paycheck. As part of this deal, 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.”
Tyson has made a number of recent compensation improvements including pay increases, as well as referral and signing bonuses. Tyson’s average base pay plus benefits for its US production workers is more than $22 per hour, which includes medical, vision and dental benefits.
Tyson continues to provide its US workers with free, on-site access to COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 90,000 (or more than 75%) of the company’s US employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Over 30,000 workers have been vaccinated since the company announced its requirement in early August.
The company is also giving a $200 bonus to fully vaccinated front-line team members as well as giving out more than $6 million in sweepstakes to incentivize vaccinations.
UFCW has been one of the strongest champions of vaccines for America’s essential workers. In December 2020, UFCW called on the CDC and governors in all 50 states to prioritize these workers for early vaccine access. The group also hosted community vaccination clinics in California, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and other states to help essential workers get vaccinations.
“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 said. “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.”
Söderström added, “We’re pleased that the UFCW and RWDSU are joining us in taking this important step. 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.”
Tyson is also providing paid administrative leave for up to two weeks for employees who are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 over the next six months, in addition to compensating workers for time spent in educational sessions about the benefits and risks of the COVID vaccines.