As companies consider whether to impose vaccine mandates on their workers, unions may prove to be a significant obstacle in some cases.
Tyson Foods became the first and, so far, only major food processor to announce a mandate for all employees, including floor workers, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. However, Tyson must still work out the details with the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which represents 24,000 Tyson floor workers.
UFCW president Marc Perrone says that he’s not comfortable with Tyson’s mandate. “It is concerning that [Tyson] is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine,” UFCW president Marc Perrone said in a statement quoted by CNN Tuesday. “We believe the FDA must provide full approval of the vaccines and help address some of the questions and concerns that workers have.”
The fact that the COVID vaccines were authorized for emergency use, before receiving formal FDA approval, has been a talking point for vaccine skeptics and opponents. But a health expert said that full approval was “a formality” that should not stop people from getting the vaccine.
Companies with unionized workforces probably will have to get their unions to sign off on any mandates. Generally speaking, employers are not allowed to make unilateral changes to the working conditions of employees with union contracts.