On Thursday, many business organizations voiced their opposition to President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccination mandate, claiming that the restrictions will burden businesses during the busy Christmas season as they scramble to meet an implementation deadline that falls just after New Year’s Day.
According to new standards published by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, all unvaccinated employees must begin wearing masks indoors a month early, on Dec. 5.
Several Major Business Organisations Oppose Biden’s Covid Vaccine Mandate
OSHA will also perform on-site workplace compliance inspections, with fines ranging from $13,653 to $136,532 for breaking the standards.
During discussions with White House officials last month, the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association requested a 90-day implementation time, claiming that the rule would burden their members during the hectic holiday shopping season.
OSHA’s new mandate, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, makes it “much more difficult and unpleasant” for small-business owners to operate in an already tough climate.
OSHA will assist businesses in complying with the rule by offering model implementation plans, factsheets, and other types of communication, according to senior administration officials.
The Biden administration also pushed back the deadline for federal contractors to comply with tighter immunization requirements for their employees from December 8 to January 4, to match the timeframe set for other private corporations and healthcare providers.
President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, Joshua Bolten, applauded the extension of the federal contractor mandate but stressed that “implementation is a vitally essential problem” and reiterated calls for the Biden administration to be flexible with businesses.
Employee retention issues, pre-holiday supply chain obstacles, and “the complications associated for many organizations” that must comply with both the new federal and private health requirements were among the issues he mentioned.
In a statement, the United States Chamber of Commerce, which bills itself as the world’s biggest business group, expressed support for OSHA’s “major modifications” to the vaccination mandate “that address concerns raised.”
Large airlines like American, Southwest, and Delta, which transport US mail and government personnel, as well as Boeing, IBM, and others, are among the federal contractors subject to the tighter rule.
The pilots’ unions at American and Southwest Airlines were particularly vociferous in their opposition to the mandate, claiming that it should be a medical choice made by each pilot. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association attempted to stop the rule from going into effect, but a federal court in Texas refused the motion and dismissed the union’s complaint last week.
The postponement for government contractors was applauded by both labor organisations. In a statement, Casey Murray, head of the Southwest pilots’ union, stated, “We are delighted to learn that the Biden administration has addressed labor and industry concerns about the deadline happening before the busy holiday season.”
“While the mandate is still troubling, this extended deadline will allow SWA to better plan and engage with SWAPA about the requirement’s processes and how they affect our pilots.”
Southwest said it was studying the latest instructions but didn’t specify whether the internal vaccine deadline will be pushed back.