Carhartt is requiring its workers to get vaccinated and people have feelings

Jan 18, 2022 at 10:38 am
click to enlarge Carhartt's flagship Detroit store in 2015. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Carhartt's flagship Detroit store in 2015.

Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for large employers, many are going ahead and requiring their workers to get vaccinated anyway. That includes Carhartt, the 133-year old Michigan-based workwear company beloved by both blue-collar workers and hipsters alike.

According to an email that was sent on Friday from CEO Mark Valade to all Carhartt employees, the company is moving ahead with its mandatory vaccination policy, which went into effect on Jan. 4 and requires all workers to be vaccinated by Feb. 15.

"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," Valade wrote, according to the leaked email. "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. 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."

Valade is the great-grandson of company founder Hamilton Carhartt, who founded Carhartt in Detroit in 1889. Metro Times reached out to Carhartt to confirm the authenticity of the email.

"Carhartt made the decision to implement its own vaccine mandate as part of our long-standing commitment to workplace safety," the company said in a statement. "Our recent communication to employees was to reinforce that the Supreme Court ruling does not affect the mandate we put in place."

The statement continued: "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."

The letter began circulating on Twitter on Tuesday, with people on both sides of the vaccination culture war chiming in.

"Look at @Carhart taking a stand to protect their workers and the American people!!" a tweet from an account called "VaxxedCat" said. "Thank you @Carhartt!!"
"I have a lot of @Carhartt stuff and I will definitely be buying more," an account called "Vax it up." wrote. "Companies that value their employees safety and well being will always win my money over companies that do not."
Others decided they must boycott the brand for being "woke," whatever that means.

"Carhartt just put themselves on the going out of business notice," someone who runs an account called "LiberalsHaveNoClue" (@DemsAreCrap) wrote. "Do they realize their base is blue collar conservative working class. Buh bye Carhartt."

"Hey @Carhartt - you and your new clientele can kiss my country ass" an account called "@Amer1can_Barbie" wrote.

At least one conservative voice of reason pointed out that Carhartt had the right to require its workers to get vaccinated.

"Carhartt is a private company," Carmine Sabia wrote on Twitter. "They can mandate that you wear headbands if they want. If you do not want to adhere to their policies, quit. This is a free market. In the same way I do not want the government mandating what we must do we can not mandate what a business can do."

According to a Kentucky TV news station, some Carhartt workers protested the company's vaccination policy in November.

"I think it should be a choice, they think it should be a choice," a Carhartt factory worker named Lance Gary told the station. "There's many aren't standing here that think it should be a choice. But Carhartt has made it not our choice, they've made it mandatory."

A November survey of more than 540 U.S. employers found that more than half of all respondents, or 57%, either "require or plan to require COVID-19 vaccinations."

This post was updated with a statement from Carhartt.

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