Stellantis suspends vaccine mandate for U.S. salaried employees

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV on Thursday said it's suspending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for non-union salaried workers in the United States.

The decision is "due to the tremendous support and response we have received to the vaccine requirement," pokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement. More than 97% of the affected 14,000 employees had gotten the vaccine or a medical or religious exemption. A mandate remains in effect for employees in Canada.

Mark Kreusel, plant manager at Stellantis NV's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the company's health and wellness center there.

The maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks is the latest corporation to end a vaccine mandate after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a federal emergency temporary standard from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration from taking effect. It would've required employers with 100 or more workers starting next month to ensure their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. OSHA pulled the rule for businesses effective Wednesday.

"Protecting the health and safety of all Stellantis employees has been guiding the implementation of policies and protocols related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic," Tinson said.

"We continue to encourage all employees to get vaccinated and, when eligible, boosted as the most effective way to prevent serious COVID-19 illness. We will continue to monitor the situation and the guidance of public health authorities to make any modifications necessary to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our workforce."

When Stellantis announced on Nov. 19 that it was requiring the COVID-19 shot, about 80% of affected workers were vaccinated.

Health and safety requirements for employees represented by the United Auto Workers are subject to negotiations. Vaccines have been encouraged, but not mandated, for those workers. Earlier this month, Stellantis said more than 50% of its employees have self-certified their vaccination status.

Ford Motor Co. also instituted a vaccine mandate for most of its salaried workforce. The deadline for that was Jan. 4. General Motors Co. has said it supports the COVID-19 vaccine but has not mandated that its employees get the jab.

Stellantis joins other major companies like Starbucks Corp. and General Electric Co. that have rolled back vaccine and testing requirements for their employees since the Supreme Court's decision.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble