Home » Entries posted by ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business Writer

Tyson Foods, Microsoft to require vaccination for US workers

Tyson Foods, Microsoft to require vaccination for US workers

ARLINGTON, Va. — Tyson Foods will require all of its U.S. employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming one of the first major employers of front-line workers to do so amid a resurgence of the virus.Microsoft also announced Tuesday that it will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and visitors to its U.S. offices starting in September, following similar actions recently taken by Google and Facebook. Microsoft also postponed its planned return to the workplace from September to no earlier than Oct. 4, although it will allow flexibility for some employees to continue working from home, including parents of children who are not eligible for vaccines.While vaccination mandates have gained traction among employers, many of the companies adopting them have workforces that can transition to remote locations easily.Many companies that rely on large low-income workforces have far largely declined to mandate vaccines for their front-line workers, making Tyson’s announcement significant.One of the world’s largest food companies, Tyson said that members of its leadership team must be vaccinated by Sept. 24 and the rest of its office workers by Oct. 1. Its front-line workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 1, although the company said the specifics were being negotiated with unions.Just under half of its U.S. workforce — about 56,000 employees — have been vaccinated after the company staged more than 100 vaccination events since February, it said. The Springfield, Arkansas, company plans to continue with those events and offer a $200 bonus for all front-line workers who receive a vaccine.The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents Tyson workers, criticized the company for imposing the requirement while the vaccines still have only emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. UFCW International President Marc Perrone said the union would be meeting with the company over the next weeks to “ensure that the rights of these workers are protected, and this policy is fairly implemented.”“While we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and have actively encouraged our members to do so, it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine,” Perrone said in a prepared statement.In a memo to employees, Tyson CEO Donnie King expressed alarm over the rise of the delta variant and made clear the vaccine requirement was needed to overcome persistent hesitancy to get the shots.“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are,” King wrote.Tyson, whose brands include Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, has grappled with deadly outbreaks of the virus at its plants and faced lawsuits from the families of some workers. Tyson said the number of infections at its plant are currently low after the company spent $700 million to better safeguard workers.Other companies, including Amazon, Walmart and major grocery chains, have so far declined to mandate vaccines for their front-line workers, in part to avoid fueling a labor crunch and persistent worker turnover. The companies are instead continuing with information campaigns, bonuses, time off and other incentives.Many unions also are firmly opposed to vaccine mandates for their workers.The spread of the delta variant is also prompting some companies to reimpose mask mandates for workers — even those who are vaccinated — in keeping with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Unionized auto workers at three companies — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — will have to go back to wearing masks regardless of their vaccination status, according to a decision announced Tuesday by a task force of representatives from the companies and the United Auto Workers. The move comes just under a month after vaccinated union workers were allowed to shed their masks.The task force encourages all workers to get vaccinations so mask requirements can eventually be relaxed.However, Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the 397,000-member United Auto Workers, said the union is against vaccine requirements because some people have religious or health concerns about vaccinations.Still, tougher vaccine rules are gaining traction among restaurants, bars and some big entertainment companies, both for workers and customers. Some employers, including the federal government and some state and local authorities, are requiring that unvaccinated workers put up with weekly testing, stopping short of an outright mandate.In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International announced that unvaccinated employees would have to pay $15 to get tested for the virus onsite, or obtain a test offsite and bring in the results. The company also said that unvaccinated employees would not be paid for time off to quarantine if they test positive for the virus.MGM Resorts has conducted several vaccination clinics and offered incentives including drawings for employees to win prizes such hotel stays and cash. But President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle expressed frustration at the region’s low vaccination rate in a letter to employees imploring them to get the shots.“Our region’s low vaccination rate is putting us back on the path to overrun hospitals, unnecessary deaths, fewer tourists, and possible furloughs and layoffs,” Hornbuckle wrote. “None of us want that.”——————AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit and AP Technology writer Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this story,

Tyson Foods, Microsoft to require vaccination for US workers

Tyson Foods, Microsoft to require vaccination for US workers

ARLINGTON, Va. — Meat processer Tyson Foods said Tuesday it will require all of its U.S. employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming one of the first major employers of frontline workers to do so amid a resurgence of the virus.Microsoft also announced Tuesday that it will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and visitors to its U.S. offices starting in September, following similar actions recently taken by Google and Facebook. Microsoft said it was moving back its planned return to the workplace from September to no earlier than Oct. 4, although it will allow flexibility for some employees to continue working from home, including parents of children who are not eligible for vaccines.While vaccination mandates have gained traction among employers, many of the companies adopting requirements have mostly office workers who are already largely vaccinated and are reluctant to work alongside those who aren’t.Many companies that rely on large low-income workforces have far largely declined to mandate vaccines for their frontline workers, making Tyson’s announcement significant.One of the world’s largest food companies, Tyson said that members of its leadership team must be vaccinated by Sept. 24 and the rest of its office workers by Oct. 1. Its frontline workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 1, although the company said the specifics were being negotiated with unions.Just under half of its U.S. workforce — about 56,000 employees — have been vaccinated after the company staged more than 100 vaccination events since February, it said. The Springfield, Arkansas, company plans to continue with those events and offer a $200 bonus for all frontline workers who receive a vaccine.In a memo to employees, CEO Donnie King expressed alarm over the rise of the delta variant and made clear the vaccine requirement was needed to overcome persistent hesitancy to get the shots.“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are,” King wrote. “We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world.”Tyson, whose brands include Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, has grappled with deadly outbreaks of the virus at its plants and faced lawsuits from the families of some workers. In a news release, the company said the number of infections at its plant are currently low after the company spent $700 million on efforts to safeguard workers.Other companies, including Amazon, Walmart and major grocery chains, have so far declined to mandate vaccines for their frontline workers, in part to avoid fueling a labor crunch and persistent worker turnover. The companies are instead continuing with information campaigns, bonuses, time off and other incentives.Many unions also are firmly opposed to vaccine mandates for their workers.The spread of the delta variant is also prompting some companies to reimpose mask mandates for workers — even those who are vaccinated — in keeping with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Unionized auto workers at three companies — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — will have to go back to wearing masks regardless of their vaccination status, according to a decision announced Tuesday by a task force of representatives from the companies and the United Auto Workers. The move comes just under a month after vaccinated union workers were allowed to shed their masks.The task force encourages all workers to get vaccinations so mask requirements can eventually be relaxed.However, Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the 397,000-member United Auto Workers, said the union is against vaccine requirements because some people have religious or health concerns about vaccinations.Still, tougher vaccine rules are gaining traction among restaurants, bars and some big entertainment companies, both for workers and customers. Some employers, including the federal government and some state and local authorities, are requiring that unvaccinated workers put up with weekly testing, stopping short of an outright mandate.In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International announced that unvaccinated employees would have to pay $15 to get tested for the virus onsite, or obtain a test offsite and bring in the results. The company also said that unvaccinated employees would not be paid for time off to quarantine if they test positive for the virus.MGM Resorts has conducted several vaccination clinics and offered incentives including drawings for employees to win prizes such hotel stays and cash. But President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle expressed frustration at the region’s low vaccination rate in a letter to employees imploring them to get the shots.“Our region’s low vaccination rate is putting us back on the path to overrun hospitals, unnecessary deaths, fewer tourists, and possible furloughs and layoffs,” Hornbuckle wrote. “None of us want that.”——————AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit and AP Technology writer Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this story,

Is Thursday the new Monday? Flexible working is in flux

Is Thursday the new Monday? Flexible working is in flux

NEW YORK — Last year, companies around the U.S. scrambled to figure out how to shut down their offices and set up their employees for remote work as the COVID-19 virus suddenly bore down on the world.Now, in a mirror image, they are scrambling to figure out how to bring many of those employees back.Most companies are proceeding cautiously, trying to navigate declining COVID-19 infections against a potential backlash by workers who are not ready to return.Tensions have spilled into the public at a few companies where some staff have organized petitions or even walkouts to protest being recalled to the office. Many workers in high demand fields, such as tech or customer service, have options amid a rise in job postings promising “remote work” — an alluring prospect for people who moved during the pandemic to be closer to family or in search of more affordable cities.“A lot of people have relocated and don’t want to come back, ” said Chris Riccobono, the CEO of Untuckit LLC, a casual men’s clothing company. “There’s a lot of crazy stuff that is a big day-to-day pain point.”Riccobono said he can’t wait to get his 100 corporate staffers back to the office in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood because he believes that productivity and morale are higher that way. Starting in September, the company will require those employees to report to the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on the hope that the flexibility of a “hybrid” schedule will keep everyone happy.Many others are similarly introducing a gradual return. Companies like Amazon and automakers Ford and General Motors have promised to adopt a hybrid approach permanently for their office staff, responding to internal and public surveys showing an overwhelming preference for work-from-home options.But implementing a hybrid workplace can be a headache, from identifying which roles are most conducive to remote work to deciding which days of the week employees need to be in the office. There are client meetings to consider. And some business leaders argue newer employees need more face-time as they begin their careers or start new at at company.“Thursday is the new Monday,” according to Salesforce, a San Francisco-based technology firm, which found that Thursday was the most popular day for employees to report to the office when the company reopened its Sydney offices back in August.Riccobono, on the other hand, insists employees show up on Mondays to get organized and set the tone for the week. Like many employers, however, he acknowledges he is still figuring things out as he navigates uncharted territory.“We will revisit in January, ” he said. “We will see how it works.”Across the country, office buildings in the top 10 U.S. cities had an average occupancy rate of about 32% in late June, according to estimates from Kastle Systems a security company that monitors access-card wipes at some 2,600 buildings. In Manhattan, just 12% of office employees had returned as of late May, according to the latest survey by the Partnership for New York City, a non-profit organization of major business leaders and employers.Romina Rugova, an executive at fashion brand Mansur Gavriel, enjoyed the tranquility as she sat on a riverside bench in lower Manhattan after a rare day back at the office for a meet-and-greet with the company’s newly hired head of e-commerce.A mother of two, Rugova had mixed feelings about returning to the office. Seeing colleagues in person after so long was invigorating, and she did not always enjoy blurring her family and professional life.“The challenge is you have to be three people at the same time. You have to be a professional, you have to be a cook, you have to be a cleaner, you have to be a mom,” Rugova said. “Being in the office after a while was so nice and refreshing. It’s completely different experience, you don’t realize it.”But she doesn’t want to completely give up the three hours of extra time she saves without the commute. Many of her colleagues feel the same way, so Mansur Gavriel will likely implement a flexible policy when most of its 40 employees return to the office after Labor Day.“We are still figuring it out,” Rugova said.While most employers will accelerate their return-to-office plans over the summer, nearly 40% of office employees will still be working remotely in September, according to the Partnership for New York City’s survey.The trend has raised concerns about an unequal economic recovery, given that working remotely is an option available to a privileged few. Only about 15% of workers teleworked because of the pandemic in June, according the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report. Most work jobs at restaurants, schools, hospitals, factories and other places that require them to show up in person.Some of large investment banks, which are top employers and office space tenants in New York City, are leading the push to bring employees back, taking a hardline approach in comparison with tech giants that have rolled out generous remote work policies.Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said at a conference earlier this month that he would “be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office” by Labor Day.“If you can go a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” Gorman said, though he acknowledged that there should be flexibility for parents still struggling with childcare logistics that fell apart during the pandemic.Gorman also made clear that he was not open to the “work from anywhere” mentality that some companies have adopted, saying employees who want to earn New York City salaries should work in the city. The CEOs of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have made similar comments, sparking furious debate about whether they would push employees out the door.It remains to be seen how deeply remote work policies will influence recruitment and retention. But professionals looking for flexibility are finding they have options.Brecia Young, a data analytics scientist and mother of a 1-year-old child, had choices when she was looking to switch jobs from a small Chicago firm. She accepted an offer from Seattle-based real estate company Zillow in part because the company allowed her to work from home and stay in Chicago, where she and her husband have relatives to help with child care.“Moving to the West Coast was on the table but it would have been a real hardship,” said Young, adding that her husband also would have had to look for a new job. “I love the time savings just in terms of the commute. It’s like 90 minutes of saved time that I can repurpose.”————Associated Press writer Anne D’Innocenzio contributed to this story from New York.

Amazon begins new chapter as Bezos hands over CEO role

Amazon begins new chapter as Bezos hands over CEO role

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has officially stepped down as CEO of the company he started out of his Seattle garage in 1995By ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business WriterJuly 5, 2021, 6:54 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO on Monday, handing over the reins as the company navigates the challenges of a world fighting to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.Andy Jassy, who ran Amazon’s cloud-computing business, replaced Bezos, a change the company announced in February.Bezos, Amazon’s biggest shareholder with a stake worth about $180 billion, will still hold sway over the company he started out of his Seattle garage in 1995. He takes over the role of executive chair, with plans to focus on new products and initiatives.Jassy takes the helm of a $1.7 trillion company that benefited greatly from the pandemic, more than tripling its profits in the first quarter of 2021 and posting record revenue as customers grew ever more dependent on online shopping.At the same time, Amazon faces activism from a restive workforce just as a rapid economic recovery causes a labor crunch that has retailers, manufacturers and other companies competing for workers with higher wages and other benefits. The company defeated an attempt by workers to unionize at an Alabama warehouse earlier this year, but faces a more formidable challenge as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters launches a broader effort to unionize Amazon workers.In a blog post to employees earlier this year, Bezos said he planned to devote more time to side projects, including his space exploration company Blue Origin, his philanthropic initiatives and overseeing The Washington Post, which he owns.First up, the richest man in the world by Forbes’ estimate will fulfill his childhood dream of traveling to space. Bezos, 57, will blast into space on July 20 when Blue Origin makes it first flight with a crew, bringing along his younger brother Mark, an investor and volunteer firefighter.Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore and built it into a shopping and entertainment empire that is the second-largest private employer in the U.S., behind Walmart. Amazon, which is buying the MGM movie studio in its latest major acquisition, now makes movies and sofas, owns a grocery chain and has plans to send satellites into space to beam internet service to Earth.Jassy, who has been with Amazon since 1997, ran the cloud-computing business that powers video-streaming site Netflix and many other companies, making it one of Amazon’s most profitable businesses.Among Jassy’s challenges are growing calls for tighter regulation on tech giants. A report by the House Judiciary Committee in October called for possibly breaking up Amazon and others, making it harder for them to acquire companies and imposing new rules to safeguard competition.

Amazon begins new chapter as Bezos hands over CEO role

Amazon begins new chapter as Bezos hands over CEO role

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has officially stepped down as CEO of the company he started out of his Seattle garage in 1995By ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business WriterJuly 5, 2021, 6:54 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO on Monday, handing over the reins as the company navigates the challenges of a world fighting to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.Andy Jassy, who ran Amazon’s cloud-computing business, replaced Bezos, a change the company announced in February.Bezos, Amazon’s biggest shareholder with a stake worth about $180 billion, will still hold sway over the company he started out of his Seattle garage in 1995. He takes over the role of executive chair, with plans to focus on new products and initiatives.Jassy takes the helm of a $1.7 trillion company that benefited greatly from the pandemic, more than tripling its profits in the first quarter of 2021 and posting record revenue as customers grew ever more dependent on online shopping.At the same time, Amazon faces activism from a restive workforce just as a rapid economic recovery causes a labor crunch that has retailers, manufacturers and other companies competing for workers with higher wages and other benefits. The company defeated an attempt by workers to unionize at an Alabama warehouse earlier this year, but faces a more formidable challenge as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters launches a broader effort to unionize Amazon workers.In a blog post to employees earlier this year, Bezos said he planned to devote more time to side projects, including his space exploration company Blue Origin, his philanthropic initiatives and overseeing The Washington Post, which he owns.First up, the richest man in the world by Forbes’ estimate will fulfill his childhood dream of traveling to space. Bezos, 57, will blast into space on July 20 when Blue Origin makes it first flight with a crew, bringing along his younger brother Mark, an investor and volunteer firefighter.Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore and built it into a shopping and entertainment empire that is the second-largest private employer in the U.S., behind Walmart. Amazon, which is buying the MGM movie studio in its latest major acquisition, now makes movies and sofas, owns a grocery chain and has plans to send satellites into space to beam internet service to Earth.Jassy, who has been with Amazon since 1997, ran the cloud-computing business that powers video-streaming site Netflix and many other companies, making it one of Amazon’s most profitable businesses.Among Jassy’s challenges are growing calls for tighter regulation on tech giants. A report by the House Judiciary Committee in October called for possibly breaking up Amazon and others, making it harder for them to acquire companies and imposing new rules to safeguard competition.

Federal holiday pressures companies to give Juneteenth off

Federal holiday pressures companies to give Juneteenth off

NEW YORK — The declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is putting the pressure on more U.S. companies to give their employees the day off, accelerating a movement that took off last year in response to the racial justice protests that swept the country.Hundreds of top companies had already pledged last year to observe Juneteenth in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the national reckoning on racism that followed.But most private companies take their cues from the federal government — the country’s largest employer — in drawing up their holiday calendars. President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, following the passage of a bipartisan Congressional bill.More than 800 companies have publicly pledged to observe Juneteenth, according to HellaCreative, a group of Black creative professionals in the San Francisco Bay area that launched a campaign last year to build corporate support for making the June 19th an official holiday. That is nearly double the number of companies that had joined the pledge last year.Patagonia, the outdoor apparel retailer, announced that all of its U.S. stores will be closed Saturday, and its corporate offices would be closed Monday. Other brands, including Target, J.C. Penney and Best Buy had pledged last year to adopt Juneteenth as paid holiday, though they are keeping stores open. Several major banks have said employees will get a floating paid day off.Many companies, however, had little time to shuffle their holiday calendars. Some offered employees a regular paid day off or promised to consider adding it to their calendars next year.Nasdaq said its U.S. exchange would stay open Friday and Monday “to maintain a fair and orderly market and to minimize operational risks” but that it would discuss its future holiday schedule with regulator and companies.State governments that had not already declared Juneteenth a holiday were also scrambling to respond the new federal holiday. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that all state government offices will be closed Friday, superseding a state law signed just two days earlier that would have made June 19 a state holiday next year.Even though federal holidays like Thanksgiving are widely observed, private companies are under no obligation to offer any particular day off. But since many workers don’t know that, they will likely wonder why they are not getting a paid holiday for Juneteenth this year, said Carolina Valencia, a director in research firm Gartner’s human resource practice.In an era of increasing employee activism and a fierce competition for talent, Valencia said she expects the number of companies offering Juneteenth to surge next year after employers have had more time to react.“Many employees are going to resent their employers for not giving them the holiday because they don’t understand that it’s a complicated process,” Valencia said.But she said the devil will be in the details. Many companies will likely offer it as floating day off, making it unlikely that Juneteenth will become a national holiday on par with July 4th or Memorial Day anytime soon.And many notable companies have not joined the movement. Walmart, which employs 300,000 Black hourly workers and is the country’s largest private sector employer, told The Associated Press in an email that its employees are free to used paid time off to observe any holiday they wish, including Juneteenth.Raheem Thompson, a social media specialist for a retail company, said he was disappointed he didn’t get a paid day off. Instead, he said the company sent an email acknowledging the federal holiday and pledging to consider time off in the future.“It’s kind of bare minimum,” said Thompson, who lives in Atlanta but didn’t want his company named for fear of repercussions. “I don’t think as people of color, we really care that you acknowledge it via email … that doesn’t really have any true meaning to it.”Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.Black Americans, especially in Texas, have long celebrated Juneteenth with church picnics and speeches. But the federal holiday declaration brought it to the attention of some Americans for the first time.Jamie Hickey, founder small fitness company in Philadelphia, said he had never heard of Juneteenth until he heard about it last week on the radio. Then, his four trainers started talking about it at lunch, and he asked them if it was important to them. He decided to make it a day off next year since it was too late to cancel on clients this year.“They said, ‘are you serious, you are just now hearing about this?”” said Hickey, who founded TruismFitness last year after the chain fitness company where he and he other trainers closed because of the pandemic.Hickey said he took he lead from his employees because, as a white man, he worried about about jumping into trends only to be accused of tokenism.“I don’t want to fake. If you are fake, you get caught and it’s a million times worse,” Hikey said.That’s a major concern among even the biggest employees, said Erin Eve, CEO of Ichor Strategies, which advises firm on connecting businesses with their communities. Eve said companies will get called out by their employees, customers and even investors if they take steps like observing Juneteenth without investing in Black communities or looking at their own internal diversity.Still, Eve said the declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday will make companies that don’t follow suit increasingly look bad.“For current employees, it will reaffirm a dissonance with their values,” Eve said.———————Associated Press Writers Uroomba Jamal, Anne D’Innocenzio, Michelle Chapman and Roger Schneider contributed to this story.