Postal Service still mostly ignoring vaccine mandate

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

As most of you should know by now, the President’s mandate for all federal workers to be vaccinated has been put on the shelf by the courts and its prospects for revival don’t look great at this point. One group of federal workers who didn’t really need to worry about it are the more than 600,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service. Due to a series of blatantly political exercises, none of the pandemic rules impacting other employers and workers ever seemed to land solidly on the Post Office’s doorstep, although they were eventually forced to make some noises about “considering” a mandate. This week we learned that nothing much has changed at the USPS and a spokeswoman for the Post Office said that the organization is still “keeping its options open” when it comes to a possible vaccine mandate. One has to wonder how they seem to keep having “options” when so many other workers were told they would be sent to the unemployment line if they failed to comply. Or perhaps you don’t have to wonder all that much when you remember how much political power the postal workers’ union has. (Government Executive)

The U.S. Postal Service is still keeping its options open for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying on Wednesday it is not ruling out a requirement for its more than 600,000 employees.

USPS was originally subject to a Biden administration mandate for large employers, but the Supreme Court struck down that rule earlier this month. The Labor Department withdrew the rule “as an enforceable emergency temporary standard” this week, meaning the Postal Service is not currently on the hook for enforcing the requirement. While the mandate is no longer pending in court, it remains active through the regulatory process. Labor said even though the mandate is no longer immediately enforceable, it remains active as a proposed rule.

“The Postal Service continues to review and evaluate OSHA’s ongoing rulemaking process, and will wait until that process is concluded before determining the appropriate next steps,” said Darlene Casey, a USPS spokeswoman.

We’ve been covering this curious saga ever since Joe Biden began talking about federal vaccination mandates and the Post Office has always been a sore spot in this debate. When Biden first directed OSHA to issue a mandate for federal workers, we quickly learned that the USPS was being granted an exemption. There was no reason for that exemption to be given based on working conditions, medical concerns, or anything else. It was a strictly political move. The American Postal Workers Union is huge and it donates a lot of money almost exclusively to Democrats.

Why that matters should be obvious to anyone. The union heard about the federal mandate and almost immediately put out a statement last July. It read, “While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”

Later on, this glaring exception became something of an embarrassment to the Biden administration and new statements were issued saying that the USPS might wind up being subject to the mandate after all, but certainly not before they finished with the holiday rush season. And now, with this week’s round of announcements, we see that the USPS is still “considering” the matter and waiting to see what the courts have to say.

The United States Postal Service remains the most glaring piece of evidence as to why all of these vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions are political in nature rather than being medically sound practices. Postal workers are regularly jammed into close quarters where packages and envelopes are sorted and distributed. The carriers go around door-to-door on a daily basis, coming in contact with many people who greet them when the mail arrives. Nothing about their employment practices makes them less vulnerable to the virus. But they were able to thumb their collective noses at the mandates.

Nobody at the Post Office ever took Biden’s mandate seriously. Speaking strictly from the local level, I can tell you that our postal carrier (a completely wonderful woman that we’ve known for many years) is not vaccinated and has never once shown up at our door wearing a mask. Everything is optional for the postal workers and they don’t have to reveal their vaccination status to the management. And that’s not about to change because their union is powerful enough to scare Joe Biden and the Democrats back into their corner.