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Reuters 02 August, 2021 - 03:59pm 27 views

Tyson Foods, with thousands of Iowa employees, will require COVID-19 vaccinations

Des Moines Register 03 August, 2021 - 08:35am

In Iowa,158 people were hospitalized with the virus as of July 28 — triple the number at the end of June. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that even vaccinated Iowans wear masks indoors in 75 of the state's 99 counties, citing the risk of spread in those areas.

"Getting vaccinated is the single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities," Tyson CEO Donnie King said in an open letter to employees.

King added in his letter that the requirement will be subject to negotiation with unions at plants where employees are organized, including Iowa sites. The company operates meatpacking plants in Columbus Junction, Council Bluffs, Independence, Perry, Storm Lake and Waterloo. 

It had to temporarily shutter some of those plants in April 2020 as thousands of workers on tightly packed processing lines tested positive for the virus, leading to a string of federal lawsuits that are still pending.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that 56,000 of its U.S. employees — "almost half" — have been vaccinated. The company has hosted 100 vaccination clinics at its locations around the country.

Tyson also announced that it will increase the financial incentive for workers who receive shots, "subject to ongoing conversations with locations represented by unions." The company will now pay those workers $200, up from an amount equivalent to four hours of normal wages.

Workers citing a medical or religious reason for declining the shot will not need to be vaccinated, the company said.

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