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The phrase “vaccine mandate” is possibly one of the most controversial things that someone could utter at the moment. The automotive industry is trying to figure out the best way to handle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to combat reduced car production and factory shutdowns. For some automakers, the coronavirus has caused nearly as much damage as the global semiconductor shortage.

Mercedes-Benz to enforce coronavirus vaccine mandate

Axel Harries, Vice President, Product Management & Sales, MB Passenger Cars, speaks during the opening of the new Mercedes-Benz USA corporate headquarters. Mercedes-Benz USA just announced that they will enact a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all of its U.S. employees
Axel Harries, Vice President, Product Management & Sales, MB Passenger Cars | Mercedes-Benz USA

According to a report from Automotive News, in October, Mercedes-Benz USA emailed its employees that proof of vaccination against coronavirus would become “a condition of employment” starting January 4th, 2022.

Mercedes-Benz stated that it is going forward with the vaccine mandate because it anticipates that eventually, a similar mandate from the U.S. government will apply to large businesses. According to a source close to the issue, less than half of the automaker’s employees at U.S. import processing centers are vaccinated, and many of them will not get the vaccine.

Mercedes-Benz USA said that it had provided employees with a 90-day notice to meet the vaccine requirement. They also noted that two-thirds of its U.S. employees (not including Alabama factory workers) had provided proof of vaccination so far.

“We expect that the vast majority of our employees will provide proof of vaccination before the deadline,” said Mercedes-Benz.

Ford is also requiring vaccination from its employees

The front of the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant
Ford Louisville Assembly Plant

Before Mercedes-Benz announced its vaccine mandate, Ford had already done so in late September. Though, at the time, Ford’s mandate was not as wide-sweeping. The automaker announced that they would require their salaried employees to disclose their vaccination status. Just like Mercedes-Benz USA, Ford decided to get ahead of any U.S. government mandates.

Ford salaried employees had until October 8th, 2021, to inform the company of their vaccination status. However, it was not a requirement for hourly employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

The automaker would likely not force a mandate on union workers, so it is working with UAW leadership to find a solution. However, that may all be moot if the U.S. government goes through with its vaccine mandate for large businesses.

The big three is pushing the mandate at its Canadian facilities as well

An employee at Stellantis' Windsor (Ontario) facility going through a COVID-19 health screening before entering the factory
Stellantis Canadian employee going through health screening | Stellantis

Ford, General Motors, and Steallantis began enforcing a vaccine mandate at their manufacturing plants in Canada. Those mandates are more comprehensive than the requirement for salaried workers Ford has in the U.S. For any of the Canadian factories owned by the big three, any visitor or employee will need proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter the premises.

The mandate for Stellantis’ Canadian plants will start on December 17th, 2021, while General Motors Canadian mandate will start on December 12th. Ford did not give a date, but it will likely happen in December of 2021.

We anticipate that there will be resistance to these mandates as many people do not believe in the enforcement of vaccinations by the government or employers. We think it is safe to expect this matter to turn into a passionate debate in the coming months.


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