GOP pushback on employer vaccine mandate underway in states
LITTLE ROCK (Ark.). (AP) — Republican state officials reacted with swift rebukes Thursday to President Joe Biden’s newly detailed mandate for private employers to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, threatening a wave of lawsuits and other actions to thwart a requirement they see as a stark example of government overreach. At least two conservative groups quickly filed lawsuits against the workplace safety rule. A growing list of GOP governors and lawyers general stated that more lawsuits would be filed as soon as Friday. Some Republican-led states have already passed laws and executive orders to protect employers who may not wish to comply.
“This law is garbage,” South Carolina Attorney-General Alan Wilson, a Republican said through a spokesperson. “It’s illegal and we will fight it,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, stated Thursday through a spokesperson. McMaster, a Republican, indicated that he plans to issue an executive order stopping state agencies from applying the rule.
States have been preparing for the requirement ever since Biden first showed it in September. The Occupational safety and health Administration requirements, which were released Thursday , require that companies with 100 employees or more be vaccinated or tested every week. Failure to comply could result in penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation. The possibility of expanding the mandate to small employers was also discussed by federal officials.
Republican Governors and Attorneys General in Alabama, Arizona. Florida, Florida, Idaho. Louisiana. Missouri, Montana. Nebraska. New Hampshire. Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Louisiana said that they will file lawsuits against this mandate as soon as possible. The Daily Wire, a conservative media firm, filed a federal challenge to the mandate on Thursday. Companies in Ohio and Michigan were represented by conservative advocacy law firms.
Robert Alt was a lawyer representing Midwest companies — Sixarp and Phillips Manufacturing & Tower Company — who said that both are already experiencing staff shortages due to the pandemic. He said that the mandate would make matters worse.
“It is an insult to the injury and could force them to fire qualified employees,” Alt stated.
States claim they are focusing their attention on the role played by the federal government in the lawsuits that they are preparing.
“While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb made the statement.
At a news conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticised what he called an executive fiat for the private sector. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds described the mandate as an imposition of personal choice and said that people should be free to make their own decisions about their health care. Recently, she signed a bill that guarantees that those who refuse to receive vaccines can be fired and get unemployment benefits.
At least 19 Republican-led states previously sued the Biden administration over a separate mandate requiring vaccines for employees who work for federal contractors. Similar lawsuits were filed by three more Thursday.
Biden released a statement on Thursday dismissing the argument of many GOP governors, lawmakers, that mandating employers would hurt workers’ job security.
“There has been no mass firings or worker shortages due to vaccination requirements.” he stated. “Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support.”
The administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way out of the pandemic.
Challenges to the workplace mandate from Republicans and conservative groups are expected to be broad-based and quick, reflecting yet another aspect of the COVID-19 response — from mask requirements to social-distancing guidelines — that has fallen into a partisan divide. After the OSHA rules were made public on Thursday, Democratic governors and attorneys-general were quiet. Governor. Gavin Newsom sent a simple tweet message to his followers: “The right decision.” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein also defended mandates in an emailed statement that he sent to The Associated Press.
Laura Kelly was the Democratic governor of Republican-dominated Kansas and tried to keep a tightrope on new workplace rules. After a Thursday chamber of commerce event, Kelly stated that federal mandates “tend to not work” and that she wants a Kansas-focused way to meet them. However, she did not provide details.
All 26 Republican state attorneys general have previously said they would fight the requirements, and most of them signed a letter to Biden saying as much. The key issue they object to is whether OSHA has legal authority to require vaccinations or testing for viruses.
The top lawyers from the state governments argued in a letter to Biden that OSHA can only regulate health risks specific to job positions and not those that affect the entire world. Seema Naanda, OSHA’s top legal representative, stated that established legal precedent allows for rules to keep workplaces safe, and that these rules can preempt state laws.
Governors and state legislators have taken a range of actions to undermine federal mandates. Texas Governor. Greg Abbott issued last month an executive order interdicting private companies and other entities from requiring vaccinations. A bill was proposed by an Ohio lawmaker that would prohibit schools and colleges from exiling students who refuse to take vaccines, and prevent employers from firing employees who do.
Arkansas has adopted a law creating a vaccine-mandate exemption for workers who can prove they have COVID-19 antibodies, although a broader measure banning employers from asking about vaccination status failed in the Legislature. OSHA rules include an exemption for religious reasons, and one for those who work only outdoors or away form others — such as at home.
Governors and legislators from states like Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming have requested special legislative sessions in order to combat vaccine mandates. The Nebraska governor refused to allow a special session, despite the fact that not enough state legislators agreed to it. Pete Ricketts (a Republican in a GOP-dominated State) has been encouraging them to keep trying.
In Ohio factory owner Ross McGregor stated that he would follow all federal workplace regulations, but not because it is his belief. McGregor claimed he was vaccinated and has repeatedly opposed attempts by Ohio Republican legislators to stop him mandating the coronavirus vaccination for his workers.
“At end of the day every employer and every employment situation dictates what’s best,” stated McGregor, who is a former Republican state legislator and the owner of Pentaflex axle and brake component manufacturer Pentaflex. He estimates that approximately half of 115 employees have been vaccinated. “Having either a ban on mandates or an imposition of mandates goes against that”
This version corrects paragraph five to say it is the The Daily Wire, not Daily Caller, that filed a lawsuit.
Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press reporters Bryan Anderson in Raleigh; Adam Beam, Sacramento, Calif.; Kimberly Chandler, Montgomery, Alabama; Jeffrey Collins, Columbia, South Carolina; Tom Davies, Indianapolis; Amy Beth Hanson, Helena; Heather Hollingsworth, Lake Quivira; Kansas; Anthony Izaguirre, Florida; Tom Krisher, Detroit; Kimberlee Kriesi, Nashville, Tennessee; David Lieb, Jefferson City, Missouri. Holly Ramer, New Hampshire. Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Columbus, Ohio.