By Weston Blasi
The Supreme Court may have blocked the Biden administration ’s attempt to ensure that business with 100 or more employee require COVID-19 vaccines or frequent testing, but apparel giant Carhartt is moving ahead with its own vaccine plan.
Carhartt CEO Mark Valade sent an email to employees stating that the Dearborn, Mich.–based workwear company founded in 1889 will require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Workers have to be vaccinated by Feb. 15.
Carhartt verified the contents of the email to MarketWatch. It was sent to employees last Friday, but the message was being shared widely across Twitter on Tuesday.
“We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value,” the email said.
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“We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households,” it continued. “While we appreciate that there may be differing views, workplace safety is an area where we and the union that represents our associates cannot compromise. An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk that our company is unwilling to take.”
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Valade is a great-grandson of company founder Hamilton Carhartt, according to an Associated Press report. The company remains family-operated.
The email screenshot led “Carhartt” to trend on Twitter throughout the day Tuesday as many people praised the workwear company for protecting its workers’ health while others threatened to boycott the brand for forcing its employees to get vaccinated.
Some of those applauding the move from Carhartt even pledged to support the company by buying more items from it. “Companies that value their employees safety and well being will always win my money,” wrote one.
Critics described the move as a way to control workers and force vaccinations, with some advocating a “cancellation” of Carhartt.
It’s important to note that this is just a sampling of posts about the situation at Carhartt and does not indicate that equal numbers of people support and oppose the vaccination decision by the company.
“Carhartt fully understands and respects the varying opinions on this topic, and we are aware some of our associates do not support this policy. However, we stand behind our decision because we believe vaccines are necessary to protect our workforce,” a Carhartt spokesperson told MarketWatch on Tuesday.
The bulk of the Carhartt product line nominally targets manual and farming workers and outdoor recreational enthusiasts, but the existence of company stores in such urban locations as Wicker Park in Chicago and the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis speak to its efforts to connect with other audiences. The company has engaged in designer collaborations.
The government-run U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated that it is legal under federal law for companies to require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine , with limited exceptions related to health complications, pregnancy and religious beliefs, with other reasonable accommodations offered.
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And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts and authorities, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and help protect people against COVID-19. “All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another,” the CDC has said . “The most important decision is to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.”