AT&T Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Policy to Most Union-Represented Employees

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
September 30, 2021 Updated: September 30, 2021

AT&T announced on Sept. 29 that it is extending its current COVID-19 vaccination policy to employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, making it one of the largest employers in the U.S. to mandate vaccines for a significant portion of its workers.

In a statement, the world’s largest telecommunications company said the vaccine mandate was being rolled out to help “make our workplace safer for more of our employees and customers.”

The new policy extends a previous one announced by AT&T in August requiring most management employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 11.

“This new COVID-19 vaccination policy calls for CWA-represented employees who come into work locations, client and customer events or sites, or who are temporarily working from home to be fully vaccinated and compliant with the policy by Feb. 1, 2022, unless they get an approved job accommodation,” AT&T said.

AT&T is one of the largest employers of union-represented employees in America and the only major U.S. wireless company with a union-represented non-management workforce, it said.

The Associated Press reports that CWA represents about 90,000 AT&T workers— according to CWA’s website, it represents more than 150,000 AT&T workers—but either way, it is the largest union at the company. AT&T had roughly 230,000 employees as of the end of January.

Epoch Times Photo
People walk past an AT&T store in New York, on May 17, 2021. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

AT&T did not state whether or not it would give employees the option to take a weekly COVID-19 test instead of getting vaccinated, as per President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employees, introduced earlier this month.

On Sept. 9, Biden revealed he was directing the Department of Labor to develop a rule that companies with more than 100 employees will require vaccinations or once-per-week testing for their workers.

The federal mandate will cover as many as 100 million people. More than 77 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Union spokesperson Beth Allen told AP that CWA workers at AT&T can request an exemption for religious or medical reasons, while employees who are not vaccinated by Feb. 1 deadline will get a 60-day unpaid “reconsideration period” in an attempt to change their minds.

Biden has taken aim at the unvaccinated, including official figures as well as everyday Americans, in recent weeks, blaming them for exacerbating the country’s CCP virus pandemic.

President Joe Biden speaks about combatting the coronavirus
President Joe Biden speaks about combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Sept. 9, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In a press conference earlier this month, the president said that “pandemic politics” were directly causing deaths and that his patience is “wearing thin” when it comes to unvaccinated people.

“We have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to it, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die,” Biden said during remarks at the White House.

“We cannot let these actions stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal,” he said.

“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We have made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden added. “So please, do the right thing.”

The Epoch Times has contacted AT&T for comment.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.