AT&T mandating vaccines to its union workers

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The AT&T logo sign is seen above the store in Culver City, California on January 28, 2021. – US telecommunications firm AT&T announced on May 17, 2021 a merger between its WarnerMedia unit — which owns CNN and HBO — and Discovery media, creating a streaming giant that could compete with Netflix and Disney+. When the deal is finalized, AT&T will receive $43 billion and AT&T’s shareholders will take stock representing 71 percent of the new company, with Discovery shareholders owning 29 percent. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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AT&T has become one of the largest employers in the U.S. to mandate vaccines for a significant number of frontline workers.

The telecom company said Wednesday that its employees in the Communications Workers of America union will be required to be fully vaccinated by Feb. 1, “unless they get an approved job accommodation.”

CWA represents about 90,000 AT&T workers, the union said. It is the largest union at the company, which had about 230,000 employees as of the end of January.

The Dallas company said it is extending a vaccination policy that it set for managers in August that required them to be vaccinated by Oct. 11. Unlike the federal government’s vaccine mandate for large employers, AT&T is not offering employees the option to take a weekly test instead of getting inoculated.

The federal mandate, an effort to push more Americans to get vaccinated, will cover as many as 100 million people. About 77% of U.S. adults have had at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CWA workers at AT&T can request an exemption for religious or medical reasons, and employees who are not vaccinated by Feb. 1 get a 60-day unpaid “reconsideration period” to change their minds, said union spokesperson Beth Allen.

The policy applies to employees who work in stores, customers’ homes and other worksites as well as people who are temporarily working from home. AT&T’s union employees include workers at cellphone stores, call centers and technicians.

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