- Business groups expressed many concerns about the White House’s new mandate for US companies to fully vaccinate their employees, or face routine testing by January 4.
- The Biden administration also pushed back deadlines for federal contractors to adhere to a strict set of vaccine requirements for employees.
- Industry groups and unions generally applauded the delay and shared messages of support for vaccination, but described the private sector’s mandate as disruptive and complicated to implement.
Several business groups expressed concern on Thursday about President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate, arguing that the requirements will burden businesses during the busy holiday season as they face an implementation coming soon after New Year’s Day. Run to meet the time limit.
The mandate, which applies to businesses with 100 or more workers, requires US companies to make sure their employees have been vaccinated, or face routine testing, by Jan.
However, all non-vaccinated workers should start wearing masks indoors from December 5, a month earlier. according to new rules Issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, under the Department of Labor.
OSHA will also conduct on-site workplace compliance inspections, with penalties for violations ranging from $13,653 to $136,532.
The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which requested a 90-day implementation period during meetings with White House officials last month, said the mandate would burden their members during the busy holiday shopping season.
“Ever since the president announced a vaccine mandate for private industry, the average number of seven days in the United States has dropped by more than half,” said David French, the NRF’s senior vice president for government relations.
“Nevertheless, the Biden administration has chosen to declare an ’emergency’ and impose new requirements on retailers during the crucial holiday shopping season,” French said.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association called the implementation period “inadequate” and said that potential fines for non-compliance were “unnecessary and unhelpful,” warning that “this pits the government against private employers instead of working with them to create a safe working environment“
“While the mandate on private employers technically begins after the holiday, the planning time for designing and implementing the mandate will fall during the busiest part of the shopping season,” the association said in a statement on Thursday.
The National Federation of Independent Business said OSHA’s new mandate makes working in an already challenging environment “even more difficult and troublesome” for small-business owners.
Karen Harnad, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business, said, “NFIB opposes this rule that restricts the freedom of small business owners to decide how to conduct their own business and restricts small businesses. impose undue burdens that further jeopardize small business recovery.” Legal Center, in a statement on Thursday.
Senior administrative officials said OSHA will help companies comply with the mandate by providing sample implementation plans, factsheets and other forms of outreach.
To match deadlines set for other private companies and health care providers, the Biden administration extended the deadline from December 8 to January 4 for federal contractors to comply with a stricter set of vaccine requirements for employees. pushed back too.
Business Roundtable President and CEO Joshua Bolton welcomed the expansion of mandates for federal contractors, while stressing that “implementation is a critically important issue” and calls for the Biden administration to be flexible with companies. Repeat.
He noted difficulties with employee retention, pre-holiday supply chain challenges and “complications involved for many companies” that have to comply with new federal and private health regulations.
US Chamber of Commerce, which dubs himself The world’s largest trade organization, in a statement, supports the “significant adjustments” OSHA has made to the vaccine mandate “that reflect the concerns raised by the business community.”
The group said it will “help our members ensure their employees are vaccinated,” and that it will flag employers’ “operational and implementation issues” to OSHA.
The National Association of Manufacturers is concerned about an “unreasonable cost burden” as the mandate is implemented. Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, called on the Biden administration to remain flexible.
“Federal vaccine requirements need to be flexible enough to ensure that we can achieve those goals, and we appreciate OSHA taking into account many of our inputs,” Timmons said.
“We are still reviewing the rule, but we will continue to share manufacturers’ perspectives and experiences with the administration to ensure that our members do not face undue cost burdens and other potential disruption,” he said. said.
United Auto Workers Union in a statement Flamming up on the complexity of implementing the new COVID-related mandate, he said, “We will review our more than 700 employer contracts and see if this rule has any impact on the existing protocols at various workplaces as well as the terms of our existing contracts. How does it affect
Federal contractors subject to strict mandates include large airlines such as American, Southwest and Delta, which flies US mail and government employees, as well as Boeing, IBM and others.
Pilots’ labor unions in American and Southwest were particularly vocal against the mandate, saying it should be a medical decision for every pilot. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association sought to block implementation of the mandate, but last week a federal judge in Texas denied that request and dismissed the union’s lawsuit.
Both labor unions commended the delay for federal contractors. “We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration has listened to labor and industry concerns regarding deadlines being pushed ahead of the busy holiday season,” said Casey Murray, president of Southwest’s pilots’ union, in a statement. . “While the mandate remains relevant, this new date will certainly give SWA an opportunity to better plan and interact with SWAPA about the protocols surrounding the mandate and how they affect our pilots.”
Southwest said it is reviewing the updated guidance, but did not say whether it would push back the internal deadline for vaccination.
Late last month, some of the nation’s biggest unions pushed the Biden administration to expand their vaccine mandate plans to include more employee protections. That group included the AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers, both of whom argued in a lawsuit against the Biden administration that OSHA’s COVID safety standards were inadequate.
UFCW international president Marc Perron said on Thursday that although the new mandate did not go far enough, it presented “an important first step in keeping workers safe at work”.
“The brutal truth is that this pandemic is not over,” Perón said.
– CNBC’s Melissa Repko