Private Sector Mandate: The Biden Administration and US Labor Department are facing pushback for vaccine mandates and regular testing for private sector business with 100+ employees. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Private Sector Mandate
Last Thursday, the US Labor Department announced that companies with 100 or more employees will need to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or engage in weekly COVID-19 testing by January 4th. That’s 56 days from now. If companies don’t follow the directive President Biden originally announced in September, they could face penalties of up to around $13,600 per violation. Over the weekend, a federal appeals court temporarily halted the requirement. More broadly, at least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits, some of which recently became more conservative given former President Trump’s judicial appointments, the Associated Press notes. However, Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also came out against Biden’s vaccine mandate as well. Here’s what both sides are saying about the January 4th deadline.
On The Left
Left-leaning outlets generally support vaccine mandates. For starters, the country already has these requirements in place for many childhood diseases. And while businesses are worried about losing employees, what’s worse, they ask: a tight labor market or another COVID pandemic wave?
“The foolish GOP grandstanding against vaccine mandates” Editorial Board, The Washington Post: “President Biden’s decision to mandate vaccines for businesses with more than 100 employees is having the desired impact. Big companies are complying, and more Americans are getting vaccinated every day, protecting themselves, their families, and the world around them. New daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are declining. … Ideally, vaccines should not require mandates at all. They are highly effective, free, and widely available. But millions of Americans are still hesitant. … Closing the gap — getting vaccines to those who are willing and as many of the wavering as possible — is key to ending the pandemic. … No campaign of mandates is going to be foolproof or easy; many businesses are worried about losing employees in a tight labor market. But that disruption is far less costly than would be another pandemic wave of covid.”
“No, Vaccine Mandates Aren’t an Attack on Freedom” Paul Krugman, The New York Times Opinion: “A successful vaccination campaign could mean a successful Biden administration, and the right is determined to prevent that, no matter how many avoidable deaths result from vaccine sabotage. It’s noteworthy that Fox has a very strict vaccination policy for its own employees. … Personal choice is fine — as long as your personal choices don’t hurt other people. … Going unvaccinated during a pandemic does hurt other people — which is why schools, in particular, have required vaccination against many diseases for generations. … Incidentally, the fact that breakthrough infections happen actually strengthens the case for mandates, because it means that even those who’ve gotten their shots face some danger from those who refuse to follow suit. … Vaccination, then, should be considered a public duty, not a personal choice. … That’s why we have long standing vaccine mandates for many childhood diseases. And the same logic applies to COVID-19.”
“Biden is on to something important” Julian Zelizer, CNN Opinion: “Over the past few months, the administration has made significant progress with vaccines. By shifting to a more proactive approach with vaccine mandates, we have seen big jumps in the number of Americans receiving the jab. The more the administration can do to reach unvaccinated populations in the US, control the spread of the virus at home and work with allies to boost supplies of the vaccine in other parts of the world, the better the prospects are for an economic rebound. … If the Democrats cannot offer tangible progress on the economy, the pandemic, and popular social policies like paid family leave, they will likely be looking at Republican congressional majorities in 2023 and a very competitive presidential election the year after. But if they keep problem-solving, the party can beat the odds and pave the way for a much brighter future.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators believe the choice to get vaccinated is a personal decision. If regulations are necessary, they should come from the states, not the federal government, they say. This is why they believe Biden’s January 4th deadline is unconstitutional and just another issue dividing the country.
“OSHA’s Vaccine Mandate Overkill” Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal: “COVID cases and hospitalization have blessedly plunged since the summer Delta surge as more Americans have been vaccinated or acquired natural immunity. Yet the Biden Administration is still fighting the last virus war, and on Thursday rolled out its worker vaccine mandate, which will likely do more harm than good. … The mandate comes amid a historically tight labor market and could impel some workers to quit. … Vaccines have been a pandemic godsend. But the Administration’s unnecessary mandate is trampling state police powers, imposing new burdens on employers when they can least afford it, and making life harder for the unvaccinated who want to work in an economy with too few workers. He’s also courting a political counterreaction, as Tuesday’s election showed.”
“Vaccine mandate could wreck businesses” Editorial, The Dallas Morning News: “What’s certain is that yet another bitter fight over state authority and individual liberty will ensue, and what Biden sees as a kept promise in the interest of public health will have unintended consequences. … We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic, while it may be beginning to wane, remains a public health crisis of the highest order. But just as more Americans — including children ages 5-11 — are able to get vaccinated, and more parents and workers are making the right choice to get vaccinated, levying such steep fines on employers could result in still greater backlash and sow yet more division among Americans. For this reason — at the very least — we would caution Congress against approving any sharp increase in OSHA fines, and caution the administration not to be overly aggressive in levying punitive fines on America’s employers, no matter how ‘thin’ the president’s patience is wearing.”
“Biden’s vaccine mandate is two large steps backward in the war on COVID-19” Sean Reyes, Deseret Opinion: “Regardless of where you stand on vaccines, one thing is certain: the decision to get vaccinated is still a very personal one. While vaccines have allowed us to take one giant step forward against the pandemic, President Joe Biden’s federal contractor mandate and private sector mandate drive us two monumental steps back. First, progress we have made in encouraging those who are hesitant to get vaccinated was quickly lost. The hesitant have now become decided — decidedly against getting vaccinated. … Second, because the administration is using unlawful means to achieve its vaccination goals, it only worsens mistrust for any future government efforts against COVID-19. Every American — the vaccinated and unvaccinated — should be angry about Biden’s vaccination dictate because he is using unconstitutional means to realize his mandates. … For these reasons, I am committed to challenging these illegal orders all the way to the Supreme Court. Not because vaccines are wrong, but because mandating them in these ways very much is.”
Flag This: Private Sector Mandate
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey published October 28, “A quarter (25%) of workers say their employer has a vaccine requirement, up from 9% in June. About a fifth (21%) of workers say that they want their employer to require vaccinations even though they don’t, while about half (51%) say they don’t want their employer to require it. … When unvaccinated workers are asked what they would do if their employer required them to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, 11% say they would be most likely to get the vaccine, nearly half (46%) would opt for weekly testing, and over a third (37%) say they would be likely to leave their job.” In a similar study published last Wednesday by Qualtrics, “The majority of employees (58%) support the executive order mandating vaccinations in some workplaces,” Michelle Shen reports for USA TODAY. Furthermore, “Over half (55%) of employees would consider reporting a co-worker for violating the rules.”
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