Biden promised in September to strongarm private companies into mandating Covid-19 vaccines for their employers, vowing to enforce the mandates through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Though multiple large firms have already started to implement these measures, the OSHA only revealed on Thursday how they will be enforced.
According to a draft entry in the Federal Register, all firms with more than 100 employees – no matter how many locations these employees are spread across – will be required from January 4 to ensure that these employees are “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19. Employers will be asked to keep vaccination records for their staff, and workers who refuse the jab will be required to submit to regular testing and wear face masks to work in most cases.
Penalties for employers refusing to enforce the mandate start at around $14,000 per violation, and increase to around $136,000 for further willful breaches. Federal inspectors will check businesses for compliance.
However, the agency has given no indication that it will stop at large corporations, and wrote that it “needs additional time to assess the capacity of smaller employers” to comply with the rules. To that end, the agency is calling for recommendations when it comes to making the temporary mandate permanent, for expanding it to all sectors of the workforce, and for implementing mask rules even for vaccinated employees.
The announcement of the mandate caused uproar in conservative circles. Within hours of the document being released, the Daily Wire, a conservative news site, filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging that the Biden administration lacks the constitutional authority to issue such a mandate.
“The Daily Wire will not comply with President Biden’s tyrannical vaccine mandate, and we are suing the Biden Administration to put a stop to their gross overreach,” said Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing. “President Biden, the federal government, social media, and the establishment media have conspired to rob Americans of their freedoms in the name of public health.”
The mandate’s enforcement could spell disaster for the US economy. OSHA’s jurisdiction applies to “industries as diverse as manufacturing, retail, delivery services, warehouses, meatpacking, agriculture, construction, logging, maritime, and healthcare.” Many sectors have already seen staff call in sick, apply for exemptions, or choose unemployment over getting vaccinated, and all are crucial for the normal functioning of the US economy.
Amid an already historic shortage of truck drivers, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimated last month that the nation’s largest trucking companies – who exclusively supply 80% of the country – could lose a further 37% of their drivers to the mandate. According to the ATA, a loss of even 1% of truck drivers “will be massive and crippling to our supply chain and economy.”
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