Michigan business groups urge Biden to reconsider his tenure

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LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Business groups in Michigan urged President Joe Biden on Monday to reconsider a plan requiring most workers to be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19, but said if it was passed, Governor Gretchen Whitmer should make sure the state’s rules are not stricter.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and six local chambers have raised a host of concerns and questions about the pending federal mandate, which will apply to employers with 100 or more employees. They cited the cost, the logistical challenge of verifying workers’ immunization status and test results at a time when human resources or other manpower are limited, and said the threshold of 100 employees is arbitrary.

The organizations also asked how employees will be counted, whether the unvaccinated will be able to work while awaiting weekly test results, and how long companies will need to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule.

Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the settlement could be announced later this week or next week. Michigan is one of 27 states that enforce and enforce workplace safety rules in place of the US government. State plans approved by OSHA must be at least as effective as the federal program.

“Sometimes there has been a tendency in the past that state officials see a federal standard as a starting point for doing more, doing it differently, adopting considerably higher standards. That would be our concern, ”Studley said.

Whitmer’s office referred questions to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration because the federal rule had not been published. A message requesting comment has been left for MIOSHA.

The Democratic governor, whose administration lifted pandemic restrictions months ago, said it does not plan to issue broad vaccine or mask warrants.

Biden, who previously resisted vaccine demands, has switched to favoring them due to a stubborn section of the public who refused to be vaccinated and endangered the lives of others and the country’s economic recovery. He said such mandates save lives and “change the game”.

“The federal vaccine mandate is well-intentioned, but unfortunately it creates a whole new level of private sector responsibility. Our member companies, on the whole, do not have the experience or the resources to deliver. this moment, “said Nikki Devitt, president of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Andy Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, said companies “are already doing a lot to encourage their employees to get vaccinated in a variety of different and creative ways. This is how it should be done. If it goes forward, if the president doesn’t reconsider, we ask MIOSHA to give plenty of leeway and time to get this implemented properly and with common sense application.

Almost 62% of people aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated in Michigan, 20th highest among states but lower than the national rate of around 67%.

Michigan is one of seven states where rates of coronavirus cases have increased in the past two weeks, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It had the 10th highest rate in the United States. The seven-day average of 4,384 new infections was about 56% of the April peak, when cases started to drop before increasing again over the summer.

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Follow David Eggert on https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00



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