Corporate, union reaction to Biden vaccine plan for companies
Sept 9 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Thursday took aim at vaccine resistance in America, announcing policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccines and pushing large employers to have their workers vaccinated or tested weekly. read more
The new measures, which Biden laid out in remarks from the White House, would apply to about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers.
A senior administration official said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would take enforcement actions against those that did not comply, with substantial fines of nearly $14,000 per violation.
Following are some of the latest reactions to the move.
DEFENSE CONTRACTOR LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP (LMT.N)
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to follow federal, state and local mandates, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
STATE STREET CORP (STT.N)
“In August, we announced that we will require all employees and contingent workers in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated in order to enter a State Street building, as of September 13, 2021.”
UNITED AUTO WORKERS UNION
A spokesman for the United Auto Workers said the union is “looking at the details of the announcement and how it impacts our over 700 employer contracts and our members.” UAW President Ray Curry last month said he supported only voluntary efforts to get employees vaccinated, and said any mandates would need to be agreed through negotiation.
“We know vaccines, coupled with widespread and convenient testing, serve as powerful tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, keeping the U.S. economy open, and protecting America’s workforce,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy for Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O). “We’re proud to work with the Biden administration to increase access to affordable, high-quality, FDA-authorized tests, to keep us moving toward a full recovery.”
AUTOMAKER STELLANTIS NV
Automaker Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) said, “Since vaccines have become available, Stellantis has continued to strongly advocate for our employees to get vaccinated, including facilitating administration through our near-site clinics and in partnership with our local unions. We will review the Administration’s announcement and discuss it with our partners.”
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
“Since the vaccines first became widely available, we have strongly encouraged all our members to take one of the several safe, effective vaccines against COVID-19,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley. “The data are clear. Getting vaccinated isn’t just the best way for us to end this pandemic, it is the best way for us to protect each other in the workplace.”
“Likewise, since President Biden made his first major announcement about changing COVID-19 protocols for the federal workforce in response to the surging Delta variant, we have said that changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. Put simply, workers deserve a voice in their working conditions. Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.”
MP MATERIALS CORP
U.S. rare earths producer MP Materials Corp (MP.N), which received a grant from the Pentagon last year to process the minerals used in weaponry and electronics, said it would review the president’s order. “We haven’t yet seen the order and do not know what impact it will have. In general, we have acted throughout the pandemic to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees, including by encouraging and incentivizing vaccination,” said MP spokesman Matt Sloustcher.
LAWYER WHO REPRESENTS GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS
Regarding the legality of directing government contractors to get their employees vaccinated, Steve Cave, an attorney at King & Spalding who represents government contractors, said the president will be seen as having greater authority over contractors sending employees to federal property, while contractors who do not perform work on government property will be more motivated to challenge the order.
Cave also said there is precedent for Biden’s order. Former President Donald Trump banned from use by U.S. government contractors some Chinese technology which so far has survived challenges, he said.
DELTA AIR LINES (DAL.N)
“While we await the details of the administration’s plan, Delta is proud to have developed a vaccination program that has already seen 78% of employees get vaccinated. Our employee vaccination numbers continue to grow following the announcement of our healthcare premium surcharge starting in November, and weekly testing starting next week, for those employees who choose to remain unvaccinated.”
NVIDIA CORP ((NVDA).O)
“The safety of our employees and their families is a top priority for NVIDIA. This is a topic that is being reviewed by our senior leaders and we have not yet made any decisions.”
UNION PACIFIC CORP (UNP.N)
“We are reviewing the legal document outlining today’s executive order. If we are required to mandate vaccines or weekly testing, we will certainly comply. Right now, we continue to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated and are offering incentives.”
Reporting by Joe White in Detroit, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Ernest Scheyder in Houston, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del., Ira Iosebashvili in New York, Sanjana Sitara Shivdas and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru
Editing by Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis
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