Photo by 1600 Daily Staff Writer showing a Giant Food store in the DC area completely out of eggs
Empty shelves are common once again in stores across the United States. A string of bad weather, Omicron cases, and product recalls are being blamed for the latest shortages. Industry leaders, however, see it as just another part of ongoing pandemic-related labor struggles. The number of people who voluntarily quit their jobs rose again to 4.5 million in November. Those unfilled positions exacerbate the shortage driven further by Omicron infections sweeping the meatpacking workforce despite near 100% vaccination rates.
According to NBC News:
“Because of the absences that we do have, combined with the labor shortage in this industry, you are seeing the lines are running slower than they were,” Mark Lauritsen, international vice president for meatpacking at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said. “[Meatpacking plants] tend to find enough through rearranging staff to keep the slaughter side fully staffed, but then there isn’t always enough on the other side of the plant — the processing side.”
Though the meatpacking industry has voluntarily instituted its own vaccine mandates to a great deal of success, Jon Samson and some other industry leaders said they are concerned the vaccine mandate pushed by the Biden administration could make the labor problems worse because it would not allow them to hire unvaccinated workers.