Raytheon, Walgreens Add Vaccine Rules for All U.S. Employees
(Bloomberg) -- Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will require all U.S. workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, while Southwest Airlines Co. is rolling out a new carrot-and-stick approach, as pressure grows across corporate America to ensure employees are protected.
The shots will become a condition of employment for Raytheon’s roughly 130,000 domestic workers by Jan. 1, with some exemptions for those with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs, making the aerospace giant one of the first major defense contractors with such a rule. In a statement, Raytheon said Wednesday the decision was made “to further protect employees and communities from the risks and uncertainty of Covid-19 and its variants.”
A similar move by drug-store chain Walgreens will cover about 250,000 workers, who must get vaccinated or enroll in a virus testing program, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. The policy previously applied only to Walgreens’ office workers, exempting cashiers and others in the company’s 9,100 U.S. drugstores.
Expanding the policy marks a shift from other retailers, who by and large have mandated shots for office workers while simply encouraging them for store employees amid a tight job market. Walgreens Chief Executive Officer Roz Brewer briefed President Joe Biden on the plan in a meeting Wednesday.
The steps by several of the largest companies in the U.S. come as the fast-spreading delta variant has fueled a surge in cases, prompting other big corporations to require shots or impose penalties. Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. are among those demanding vaccinations for office visitors, while Delta Air Lines Inc. is imposing a monthly insurance surcharge on those that aren’t vaccinated.
The latest announcements come about a week after Biden said the Department of Labor would develop a workplace safety rule requiring that companies with at least 100 employees either require vaccination or offer weekly testing. Biden also ordered all executive branch workers and federal contractors to be vaccinated, putting Raytheon and other defense giants such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. at the center of the government’s tougher stance on vaccinations.
A Raytheon spokesman said non-compliance with the rule would be handled like other breaches of policy, with termination a possible outcome. The company plans to consult with unions and other worker groups before implementing the plan.
Extending the policy to all U.S. staff goes further than some other companies that have opted to require only some of its employees be vaccinated. Walmart Inc., the largest private employer in the U.S., is requiring shots for employees at its headquarters and regional offices, but hasn’t imposed such a rule for retail workers. Many companies have stopped short of a mandate and have turned instead to incentives to spur vaccinations.
Southwest Airlines said it will offer 16 hours of additional pay to workers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or get shots by the middle of November, and is ending a wage protection plan for employees who decline vaccinations and become ill on the job.
Pilots and flight attendants will receive 13 trips for pay credit, the equivalent of the 16 hours, the Dallas-based carrier said in a message to employees Wednesday, because they aren’t paid on an hourly basis. Workers must upload pictures of their vaccination card before midnight Nov. 15. Southwest declined to say how many of its employees have been vaccinated.
The airline on Nov. 16 will end for unvaccinated workers a program that guaranteed full pay for up to 10 days in quarantine if the employee was exposed to or contracted Covid-19 on the job. Those workers instead will have to use days from their sick bank or personal time off. The pay guarantee remains in place for vaccinated employees.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.