Concerns were raised about the staffing of Agricultural Services Agency offices nationwide when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Agriculture Committee earlier this week. ‘october. Those concerns persist as more and more reports point to the possible resignation of FSA staff or committee members rather than getting vaccinated.
For now, the USDA press office has responded by ignoring questions about how department employees are complying with a presidential executive order. At some point in the near future, the USDA and all federal departments will need to share information on how workers have complied with the vaccine mandate. Will there be a shortage of FSA staff? What about meat inspectors? We’ll see.
During Thursday’s OSHA announcement, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) said Biden’s latest vaccine demands for businesses were a good first step, but the union said called on the administration and employers to go further by granting paid leave for vaccines, as well as paid personal protective equipment as well. UFCW noted that the union negotiated with Tyson Foods over its vaccination mandate, resulting in 96% of Tyson workers being vaccinated.
“American frontline food and retail workers have faced extreme health risks throughout the pandemic,” said Marc Perrone, president of UFCW International. “Today’s action by the Biden administration, while not going far enough, is an essential first step in keeping workers safe on the job as the dangers of COVID-19 continue. As the largest union for frontline essential workers in grocery stores and meatpacking plants, the UFCW has long said that voluntary workplace safety advice is not enough and that a A clear and enforceable standard was essential to hold companies accountable for the safety of their workers.”
The New York Times shed light on how Tyson vaccinated 60,500 workers after announcing a warrant in August. About 96% of Tyson’s 120,000 workers are now vaccinated. https://www.nytimes.com/…
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said OSHA’s new temporary emergency standard will help protect its workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, retail, food service, food processing , distribution and nursing homes across the country.
“Science shows that the best protection against serious illness and death COVID-19 workers can take for themselves and their families is to get vaccinated,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU. “Our union has negotiated terms for workers around vaccination mandates in many industries and this new standard will provide a unilateral standard, which includes an option to adopt a testing protocol and face coverings for workers who cannot be vaccinated. This ETS is a necessary victory for workers who for too long under the last government have been left on the line unprotected.”
Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Agricultural Co-operatives, said he was disappointed with OSHA’s announcement, saying it “fails to adopt several common-sense accommodations to recognize the unique nature of agriculture” . Conner added that the compliance deadline takes into account the harvest and exempts employees who work exclusively outdoors, but the implementation of the standard will be disruptive and there are no provisions to ensure the integrity of the food and agricultural supply chain. NCFC will provide comments to OSHA outlining the group’s concerns.
Nationally right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 193 million people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, or about 68.1% of the population.
Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected]
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