SHEBOYGAN — The largest employers in the Sheboygan area refuse to answer questions about mandates and safety precautions when it comes to the coronavirus.
WKTS News reached out to 18 of the largest employers in Sheboygan County and the majority of them refused to answer questions. WKTS inquired about vaccine and mask requirements at each employer.
Representatives at Kohler Company, Nemak, Sargento Foods, Acuity Insurance, Johnsonville Sausage, Nemschoff Chairs, Plastics Engineering Company (Plenco), Watry Industries, Curt G. Joa, HTT, Sheboygan Paper Box Company and the Sheboygan Auto Group failed to respond to repeated requests for comment. Bret Blizzard, Marketing Communications Manager at American Orthodontics and Tiffany Wieser, Manager of Corporate Communications at The Vollrath Company both said they had no comment for this story and did not answer questions.
Rockline does not comment publicly on internal policies and could not answer if employees are required to wear masks or be vaccinated. “Thanks to our employees’ concern for others and Rockline’s stringent safety and monitoring protocols, we have been able to maintain the health and safety of our associates throughout this pandemic,” said Randy Rudolph, President of Rockline Industries. “We will continue to adhere to the strict safety standards we have in place and we are grateful for employees’ ongoing vigilance in protecting themselves and each other as we work together to control the spread of COVID-19.”
Old Wisconsin Sausage does not mandate vaccines but strongly recommends their employees be vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees are asked to wear masks throughout their facilities except when outside and eating. “Staff safety and health are very important to Old Wisconsin,” said Steve Harrison, Vice President and General Manager. “We also try to accommodate personal freedom and comfort when possible.” Masks are required in all production areas regardless of vaccination status due to requirements issued by the USDA. According to Harrison, fully vaccinated staff are not required to wear masks in offices and common areas when social distancing can typically be maintained.
“We believe forced mandates take away personal freedom and may affect a person’s decision on where to work,” added Harrison.
Lakeshore Display in Sheboygan does not have a mask or vaccine policy in place. “It is my company’s belief that my coworkers can choose what is best for their own health and the health of their family,” said Aaron Casper, Vice President of Lakeshore Display. “It is not my role as an employer to force them to comply to something they may not agree with.”
Employees at Dutchland Plastics are required to wear masks on company property in common areas. The Oostburg-based company strongly advocates employees be vaccinated against the virus and has introduced an incentive program to demonstrate the importance of this issue. Dutchland has held onsite vaccination drives and plans to do so again in the future, according to a company spokesperson.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden laid out a plan to require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated. Any workers who remain unvaccinated will need to produce a negative test result on a weekly basis before coming to work. The requirement will impact over 80 million workers according to Forbes. In Sheboygan County, this mandate could affect the following companies:
- Kohler Company
- Bemis Mfg. Company
- Acuity Insurance
- Sargento Foods
- Johnsonville Sausage
- Rockline Industries
- Piggly Wiggly
- Advocate Aurora Health
- St. Nicholas Hospital
- Masters Gallery Foods
- The Vollrath Company
- American Orthodontics
- Old Wisconsin Sausage
- Pine Haven Christian Communities
- Nemschoff Chairs
- Blue Harbor Resort
- Plastics Engineering Company (Plenco)
- Lakeland University
- Curt G. Joa, Inc.
- The Osthoff Resort
- Dutchland Plastics