Protests continue at Newbern Tyson facility over vaccine requirement

NEWBERN, Tenn. — Protests continued at the Tyson Factory in Newbern on Thursday.

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Tyson employees at the facility are protesting after being told a COVID-19 vaccine is required to work there.

Tyson told employees they had to receive a vaccine by Nov. 1.

A news release from Aug. 3 says in part:

“To protect team members, their families and their communities, Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN), is requiring its team members at U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021. All other team members are required to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021, subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions.”

Several employees and community members are voicing their opinion, and say they don’t want to be forced to take the vaccine.

Newbern community member Jill Blessing says she wanted to support any way she could.

“When I heard that they were protesting this vaccine, anybody should have a choice whether or not they want to take the vaccine. I feel like I needed to come just to show my support,” Blessing said.

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Wednesday, protesters stayed outside the facility from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They say they plan to do the same thing Thursday.

Blessing says they just want the right to make their own decision about the vaccine.

“America stands for freedom and freedom of choice of all different kinds of things, including vaccines. I don’t care if everybody wants it. If I don’t want it. I don’t want to be forced to,” Blessing said.

In the earlier news release, Tyson says employee health is the reason they decided to make this decision, and says the most important thing is their employees’ safety.

They are providing employees with a $200 incentive to receive the vaccine.

“To support efforts to fully vaccinate all team members, the company will also provide $200 to its frontline team members, subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions.”

Tyson released the following statement on Friday:

“The views of our team members matter to us. We are listening to their concerns and offering resources along with access to the head of our COVID response team and HR professionals to answer any questions they may have regarding available vaccines.”

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