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Employers meet with Arkansas legislators to discuss mandated vaccines

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas legislators met in a Joint Judiciary meeting Tuesday to talk about employer-mandated vaccines.

KARK 4’s Jay Bir was there at the meeting to follow the discussion between legislators and employers talking about the possibility of mandated vaccines.

Randy Zook with the State Chamber of Commerce and Tom Brower with Tyson Foods testified that the state should not do anything to disallow a business from mandating vaccinations.

Randy Zook with the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce was the first to speak at the meeting saying that he believes by the end of August the Pfizer vaccine will be fully approved but many will still say they won’t get it.

In late July, however, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon announced from the company’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. that associates who work in multiple facilities and campus office associates will need to be vaccinated by October 4.

“I think there’s plenty of legal evidence and support to allow employers to mandate vaccines if they so choose,” Zook said.

Brower said since Tyson announced last week to mandate vaccines approximately 5,400 employees have gotten their first dose.

Employers similar to Tyson have said they are looking out for the welfare of their employees and believe this is the best way to do so and stripping that ability doesn’t allow employers to keep them safe.

“It prohibits private employers from taking the most basic and universally suggested precautions to guard the safety and health of all their employees and the families of those employees,” Zook said.

Many lawmakers are questioning the idea because some people are not sure about the vaccine and worry that there may be some side effects to the vaccine.

There are some concerns that said maybe there should be government regulation because it seems Tyson has a market cornered in northwest Arkansas and is forcing those they deal with to implement similar strategies.

Tyson Foods and Walmart have recently enacted mandates for their employees to be vaccinated. Tyson notes that exceptions will be made to involve workers who seek medical or religious accommodation.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Claudia Coplein, Chief Medical Officer, Tyson Foods. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”

Tom Brower with Tyson spoke about mandating that all employees need to be vaccinated.

Representative Aaron Pilkington asked about the people are concerned with losing their job if they were to not get vaccinated. Brower’s response was that he encourages those who are concerned to seek out information and answers.

“It was a tough decision but we’ve decided the best way is to vaccinate our team members,” Brower said, “This was not done lightly and still reaching out individually, we’re offering a thank you bonus, we’re continuing our outreach, we will do that for as far as I can tell.”

Continue to watch as the Senate and House judiciary committees are meeting.

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