Shareholders of Tyson Foods have rejected calls for more formal protection for its workers, even as the company has taken voluntary steps in that direction.
Voted down were proposals from minority shareholders to create a “human rights due diligence report” to probe how workers were treated during the pandemic, as well as other issues. Tyson’s board had previously recommended against adoption. The majority of the company’s stock is controlled by the Tyson family.
Tyson argued that it already has an internal audit program in which an outside group visits a quarter of its plants to see if employees understand their rights, as well as other worker protections. The dissident shareholders, who include The Vanguard Group and the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque (Iowa), argued that that is insufficient.
According to a group called Investor Advocates for Social Justice, the proposals garnered 79% support among shareholders not tied to the Tyson family, compared with 60% in 2020 and 22% in 2019.
Meanwhile, Tyson is preparing to vaccinate more Iowa workers with the new single-shot coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The company announced that workers at six plants will be able to receive the vaccines sometime next week.
Also, Tyson is partnering with Arkansas Immigrant Defense, a nonprofit law firm, to offer free legal services to workers and their families. The goal is to get as many workers as possible to get permanent legal immigration status (a green card). The program could save the workers as much as a quarter million dollars total in legal fees, by AID’s estimate.