Oregon Winery requires employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

PORTLAND – A major Oregon winery has informed its employees that they must prove by May 20 that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

While most employers in Oregon have a legal right to insist that their employees be vaccinated, very few seem to intend to do so. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that King Estate Winery is among the first to do so.

King Estate Winery is located on over a thousand acres outside of Eugene. Chief Operating Officer Brent Stone said it’s like a small town, with about 70 employees and workers working closely together on bottling lines. He said concerns about workplace safety and prevention of a virus outbreak are behind the vaccine requirement.

“It’s from a really good place, in our minds,” said Stone. “It’s really meant to be supportive and in no way punitive.”

Stone said King Estate has offered on-site vaccination clinics and an extra day of vacation as an incentive, with paid sick time for vaccine recovery. During the pandemic, weekly food boxes were available for workers, and the winery raised its minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.

University of Oregon Law School associate professor Liz Tippet said employers can require their employees to get the vaccine, with some exceptions. But she expects most will not go that far. It’s also in people’s best interests to get the vaccine, especially those who interact with others in the workplace a lot, she added.

–The Associated Press