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, announced the first national U.S. agreement to provide paid sick leave to meatpacking workers last week. Of the company’s 120,000 U.S. workers, more than 90,000 (or 75 percent) of Tyson workers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Over 30,000 Tyson workers have been vaccinated since the company announced its new vaccine mandate in early August.
UFCW secured the deal for Tyson workers to be able to earn up to 20 hours of paid sick leave as part of the union’s negotiations with Tyson over its new vaccine mandate. Under this new agreement, the Tyson vaccine mandate will now provide precautions and safeguards for medical, religious, and other protections. As the largest union for American meatpacking workers, UFCW is calling for similar paid sick leave policies from all companies across the industry to ensure more frontline workers can get the vaccine without fear of losing a paycheck.
“As the largest union for Tyson workers across the country, UFCW’s first priority is to keep these brave men and women safe on the job as the COVID-19 Delta surge continues,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said. “Since the vaccines were first approved, UFCW has played a leading role in helping to vaccinate many of its 1.3 million essential workers in meatpacking plants, grocery stores, and other frontline businesses. Today, UFCW is pleased to join Tyson in announcing the first national agreement to provide paid sick leave to American meatpacking workers. 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. 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. 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.”
For more information, visit ufcw.org.