As reported on 4 November by CNBC, the Biden administration now finds itself at odds with industry groups and unions over the new deadline for its COVID-19 vaccination mandate requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that those employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing for the virus.
The deadline is now 4 January. The mandate now has teeth as well; it will be enforced under new rules of the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which will conduct workplace inspections and levy penalties of $13,653 to $136,532 for non-compliance.
Those same new rules dictate that unvaccinated workers must wear masks indoors, starting on 5 December. The deadline for federal contractors to comply with the vax mandate was extended from 8 December to 4 January.
The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which in October had met with officials and asked for a 90-day implementation period, were among those not pleased.
The timing of the mandate’s deadline was seen as “burdensome,” requiring implementation during the already stressful holiday season.
An NRF official pointed out that, since the mandate had been announced, the seven-day average of new COVID cases in the U.S. had dropped by more than 50 percent, an implied contradiction of the “emergency” used to justify the new deadline. The RILA called the new implementation period “insufficient” and declared the schedule of fines for non-compliance “unnecessary and unhelpful.”
The National Federation of Independent Business said the mandate would limit small businesses’ freedom and threaten their recovery; the Business Roundtable said the new rules would pile onto businesses already challenged by employee retention and supply chain issues. The National Association of Manufacturers worried about “undue cost burdens and other potential disruption.”
The United Auto Workers union expressed concern about conflicts with protocols in its contracts with more than 700 employers. Similar concerns were expressed by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which had filed suit to block the mandate.
TRENDPOST: SWAPA had shown its resistance to forced vaxxing when the pilots’ union staged a “job action”; see “SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: NO JABS, NO JOB…NO FLIGHTS” (12 Oct 2021).
Other unions, such as the AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers, felt the mandate didn’t go far enough, and had filed suit arguing that OSHA’s safety standards for COVID were inadequate.
In a related story, reported in the 6-7 November edition of the Wall Street Journal, eleven state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on 5 November to stop the vax mandate on the grounds that it will hurt business, worsen the troubled job market, and that the federal government lacks the authority to dictate such requirements.
The lawsuit, filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in St. Louis, charges that the mandate is “unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise.”
The states involved are Missouri, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa; Iowa’s attorney general is the only Democrat.
The White House response was that the mandate would keep Americans from dying and would put more people back to work, and that it was well within the administration’s authority.
TRENDS UPDATE: On 6 November the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in New Orleans, granted an emergency stay of the Biden vax mandate, on the grounds of the “grave statutory and constitutional issues” that had been raised by the plaintiffs.
Such rulings normally apply to the court’s district—in this case, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas—but Louisiana AG Jeff Landry said that the judges’ language confers national scope. He stated, “Never before has the federal government tried in a such a forceful way to get between the choices of an American citizen and their doctor. To me that’s the heart of the entire issue.”
Labeling the mandate an “unlawful overreach,” Landry also declared, “The president will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the constitution.”
The administration’s response is predictable, invoking the need for “emergency” measures to address a “health crisis,” positing that OSHA has the authority to “act quickly” to protect workers from “grave danger.”
A Georgetown Law School public health expert said he found the ruling troubling, that no one has a right to enter a workplace “unmasked, unvaxxed and untested,” and that “unelected judges that have no scientific experience shouldn’t be second-guessing health and safety professionals at OSHA.”
The administration must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, 8 November, followed by petitioners’ reply the next day.
TREND FORECAST: However this lawsuit shakes out, as Trends Journal has said before, anti-vax, anti-establishment, pro-freedom movements around the world will grow, fueled by resentment over people losing their jobs, and their rights, if they don’t submit to being jabbed.