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NE Meatpacker’s Union for 7,300 Frontline Food Workers Raises Concerns About Vaccine Mandates

(KFOR NEWS  August 4, 2021)  The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union for 7,300 Nebraska frontline food workers, including Tyson meatpacking workers at the Dakota City plant, raised serious concerns about the new Tyson Foods vaccine mandate the company announced for its workers nationwide.  UFCW is urging all frontline businesses to negotiate vaccine policies directly with their frontline workers and to provide paid vaccine leave so that workers can get vaccinated without worrying about losing a paycheck as the COVID-19 Delta surge continues in Nebraska and across the country. Click here to view this press release online.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

UFCW is proud to say that we have high vaccination rates among our unionized food workers across the country, and as a result, we have helped reduce COVID-19 infection rates in many of our industries, including meatpacking.   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.  As the union for Tyson meatpacking workers, UFCW has made clear that this vaccine mandate must be negotiated so that these workers have a voice in the new policy. UFCW will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss this vaccine mandate and to ensure that the rights of these workers are protected, and this policy is fairly implemented.  We believe the FDA must provide full approval of the vaccines and help address some of the questions and concerns that workers have. Additionally, employers should provide paid time off so that their essential workers can receive the vaccine without having to sacrifice their pay, and can rest as needed while their body adjusts to the vaccine and strengthens their immune system to fight off the virus.

UFCW has been the leading national voice for essential workers in meatpacking, grocery, retail, and many other frontline industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. UFCW welcomed new CDC guidance recommending indoor masking for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in high-transmission states, but the union said a national mask mandate is needed to stop the new COVID Delta surge and finally take control of the pandemic.

COVID NUMBERS: In the latest data compiled, UFCW confirmed that among the union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least:

  • 482 frontline worker deaths and at least 96,600 frontline workers infected or exposed

  • 197 grocery worker deaths and at least 43,300 grocery workers infected or exposed

  • 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,400 meatpacking workers infected or exposed

  • 67 food processing worker deaths and 13,100 food processing workers infected or exposed

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