Major trade group questions Biden's vaccine mandate on businesses

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Late last week Joe Biden declared war on the unvaccinated workers among us. He announced executive action to mandate that employees working for companies with more than 100 employees be vaccinated. If they are not vaccinated, the employees must submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. Employers will be held responsible for the enforcement of Biden’s mandate.

Questions have arisen since Biden’s sweeping mandate was announced last Thursday. Biden, true to form, provided little in the way of explanation as to how this all works. He simply wants us to know that his patience has worn thin with those Americans not willing to be vaccinated. So, he vacillated between the kindly old man using his creepy whispery voice for effect and that of a very angry old man at the end of his rope. It was a bit disconcerting to hear the angry old man’s tone even though we’ve become accustomed to it. This time he was particularly agitated and stared blankly at the teleprompter as he aggressively scolded his audience. It turns out that the mandate requirements and disciplinary actions to be taken by the federal government against businesses haven’t even been finalized. Some of the red state governors set to challenge the mandate have said it is unlikely that their actions, like filing lawsuits, will begin for at least two weeks. That is how long they think it will take for Team Biden to get it all together and distribute the details.

In the meantime, questions have arisen from a major trade group. The Consumer Brands Association represents major packaged goods companies we are all familiar with like Coca-Cola and General Mills, Kellogg, and Campbell Soup, to name a few. The association put together a lengthy list of questions on behalf of its member businesses and sent them off in a letter to Biden. Among the questions asked are how will companies verify proof of vaccination, the consequences of falsifying vaccination status, whether workers or employers must pay for COVID-19 testing, and when the new rules will go into effect. Biden didn’t even bother to offer a timeframe. The businesses affected are those with more than 100 employees so some planning ahead will need to be done. Consumer Brands Association CEO Geoff Freeman asks for “immediate clarity” of Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan. He’s not necessarily against the mandate but he’s being bombarded by businesses wanting answers to some pretty basic questions.

Many businesses have already mandated that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 to remain employed. The new mandate, though, must provide details about who pays for what and why is OSHA being used as an enforcement agency by the feds. The Biden administration is using OSHA as a go-around action to try and avoid legal challenges.

The Consumer Brands Association — which represents the $2.1 trillion food, beverage and consumer products industry that employs 2.1 million workers — urged federal agencies to “move quickly, anticipate challenges, promptly answer questions” and partner with businesses to implement the new plan.

“The Consumer Brands Association and our member companies stand ready to partner with you in getting Americans vaccinated,” Freeman wrote.

Here is what is being called a “small sampling” of the questions asked by businesses:

What is considered documentation for proof of vaccination and how will booster shots factor into compliance?
Will the requirements only apply to vaccines that are fully approved by the FDA?
Does the government plan to centralize vaccination tracking?
What are the consequences of falsifying one’s vaccination status or test results?
What is considered suitable documentation for a negative test result?
Should employees choose not to vaccinate, is the company or employee responsible for securing and paying for testing?
When will the requirements be formally issued?
Do the new federal requirements include exemptions for religious beliefs and disabilities?

All of those questions are completely reasonable for any business operating in the real world, career experience that most of the Biden administration lacks. Biden and his inner circles are career politicians and government employees, not people with experience in the real world of making payrolls and signing paychecks. Jerry Akers, President of Sharpness, Inc., owns 36 Great Clips franchises, for example, said on FNC this morning, he questions how much more businesses will be expected to do during the pandemic. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki flippantly said last week that “Most of these businesses can absolutely afford it” when asked if businesses are expected to pick up the tab for weekly testing, for example. Akers would like to know how the number of employees for businesses to fall under the mandate arrived at 100. He noted that employees who don’t wish to comply will simply go to another employer with fewer employees who won’t be required to abide by the federal government’s mandate. He’s likely correct in that opinion, especially with today’s job market. Businesses of all sizes are looking for workers to fill vacancies.

The Department of Labor is charged with issuing the mandate. Altogether, the mandate affects up to 80 million workers and businesses can face fines up to $14,000 per violation. Those fines can quickly add up if a few employees are not vaccinated or tested in a timely fashion. The alternative is for the worker to lose his or her job and economic recovery from the pandemic is further crippled by Biden’s reckless policies. As mentioned above, some businesses have already pulled the trigger on requiring employees to be vaccinated.

“It is important that undue compliance costs do not burden manufacturers, large and small alike,” National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons said in a statement Thursday.

Some of the nation’s largest employers, including United Airlines, Tyson Foods, CVS Health and Microsoft, have already announced that they will require their employees to get vaccinated.

As Allahpundit wrote earlier today, while on a local level people may be willing to comply – if it is thought to be a local business’s decision or a local government mandate – the level of cooperation will likely diminish as control goes further away. Especially for conservatives resisting the vaccines, they may be more open to local business owners or even their city government but that openness will fade as it moves to a state mandate or on up to the federal level. Joe Biden chose to make the mandates more divisive than needed to be. Instead of persuasion, he went for a possibly unconstitutional power grab. President Unity continues to pit Americans against each other instead of bringing us together. Who cares if he’s losing patience? His job is to be the leader of all of us, not just the ones he likes. In past remarks, Biden has referred to vaccine skeptics as Neanderthals and acting in an unAmerican way. Impatiently demanding that everyone comply now will backfire and businesses will be on the losing end of this mess.