Clothing brand Carhartt in conservative crosshairs for issuing vaccine directive

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Seth Herald/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Seth Herald/Reuters

CEO Mark Valade’s decision came under fire after the supreme court blocked the federal vaccine-or-test mandate

Carhartt, the Michigan-based workwear company, is facing a wave of conservative backlash after its CEO announced that it will keep its vaccination mandate, despite a recent supreme court decision to block a federal mandate that would require businesses with over 100 employees to get vaccinated or take weekly Covid-19 tests.

In an email sent to employees last Friday, Mark Valade said that Covid-19 vaccinations remain mandatory. “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.

“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,” Valade added.

“An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and a business risk that our company is unwilling to take.”

Since Valade’s email, conservative pundits and social media users have criticized Carhartt, prompting the #BoycottCarhartt hashtag to trend nationally on Twitter.

Matthew Kolken, an immigration lawyer tweeted, “Ironic that Carhartt is mandating vaccination for their employees considering that the company outsources production to China. #BoycottCarhartt.”

Elijah Schaffer, a host on the right-wing outlet the Blaze, tweeted, “Wow @Carhartt is subjecting their employees to medical abuse. Very bad look. Definitely should stop buying their products if you do.”

“Never ever buy @Carhartt products again,” wrote Sebastian Gorka, a conservative and controversial former aide to president Donald Trump’s deputy assistant.

Others came to the company’s defense, with one user tweeting, “Wow @Carhartt I’m impressed and I will be purchasing from a company that cares about protecting all of its workers. Thank you for not making this issue political & for believing in science. We need more companies like yours!”

Another user tweeted, “I’m a commercial and heavy and highway carpenter and have been buying Carhartt overalls and carpenter pants for over 30 years. Way to go Carhartt. Real men wear Carhartt and get vaccinated.”

Last December, the company implemented a requirement for all its US employees to be fully vaccinated by 4 January or face termination. Carhartt said it will accept medical and religious exemptions for review and has interviewed employees to gather information regarding their situation or beliefs.

The decision was met with protests from a handful of employees. “All of us, you know associated, have worked completely through the Covid, you know through the pandemic. We’ve been loyal, we’ve been faithful and then now all of a sudden it’s like you’ve got to comply,” Angela Faulk, a Carhartt employee in Madisonville, Kentucky, told WEVV last December.

“We love, we love Carhartt, working for Carhartt but we just feel like this decision is wrong,” she added.

In response to the protests, Valade wrote last week that workers in two Carhartt locations, including its Madisonville branch, were given extensions and now have until 15 February to get vaccinated.

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