Michigan business leaders ask President Biden to reconsider vaccine mandate

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Instead, Studley predicted, Michigan private employers with 100 or more workers will face a “one size fits all, top down” approach to occupational safety and health, which he says will limit workers’ rights. employers and employees and could hurt the economy.

A letter sent last month by 24 Republican governors to Biden threatened legal action against his administration if he did not cancel the mandate. So far, Biden has given no indication that such objections will change his plan. When announcing the warrant, Biden said the increase in COVID cases was an “unvaccinated pandemic,” and said the measure was not only critical for public health, but would help keep businesses open. .

Corporate sentiment is far from uniform.

Indeed, a CNBC National Poll This month, 80% of CFOs “fully support” the mandate. Some were considering a mandate when Biden stepped in to say the federal government would require it for large employers; others called the movement “Critical” to defeat the pandemic.

At the same time, the Michigan regulatory agency could promulgate stricter rules than those coming from OSHA, Studley said.

“Many of our members are concerned that Michigan is going way beyond what’s required at the federal level,” Studley said.

Other participating chambers stressed that they hoped Biden would take a break from the federal immunization mandate.

“Just slow down,” said Nikki Devitt, president of the Petoskey Region Chamber of Commerce. “Listen to us before imposing a federal mandate on our members. We not only want our communities to be safe from COVID, we want our businesses to have every possible opportunity for a full economic recovery. “

Biden announced the vaccination mandate on September 9, sparking a mixed reaction from businesses across the country, some of which hailed the move as a way to reduce the virus. In addition to the largest private employers, the order of the first-term Democratic president will also require all federal employees to be vaccinated, as well as workers in companies that contract with the federal government and employees of all hospitals and others. medical facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid. funding.

Nationally, the vaccination mandate for companies with 100 or more employees will affect around 80 million workers, who may also choose to undergo weekly tests instead of getting vaccinated.

Michigan business advocates and employers await details of the proposal as the pandemic continues statewide. While COVID-19 cases in the United States have declined, Michigan cases have increased since July and peaked last week. They are now averaging about 3,600 new cases per day, or 10 times the rate in July.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year set a goal of 70 percent of state residents to receive at least one dose of one of three vaccines approved by the United States. The state is now at 68.4 percent, with 58.8 percent of residents aged 12 and older being fully immunized.

The high percentage of unvaccinated residents has raised concerns over mandate compliance and employee retention at a time when employers face “an incredible amount of employee friction and changes in the economy,” said Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to a survey published in September per the Detroit Regional Chamber, 52% of state voters opposed companies requiring proof of vaccination for employees and customers, while 44% supported it. The inquest did not ask questions about a government-imposed mandate.

Still, it indicates that Michigan residents continue to be divided over how the government should tackle the pandemic, a situation that is also playing out in protests against mask warrants in schools. At the same time, Michigan’s workforce has shrunk by more than 200,000 workers since the start of the pandemic, creating pressure for companies trying to hire and fill jobs.

Retaining workers is one of the biggest challenges Michigan businesses face, many chamber chefs have said.

“Ultimately, this (federal vaccine mandate) really puts job providers in an incredibly difficult position both politically and simply logistically of trying to enforce it,” said Johnston.

Among the chambers that did not join the effort is the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce. Andy LaBarre, executive director of government relations, told Bridge Michigan on Monday that neither his policy committee nor House leadership viewed opposition to the mandate as a high-level issue.

“From a political standpoint, we have always stood on the side of providing information and sharing with our members, and deference to the best protection of public health,” said LaBarre.

He continued, “We want every business to be successful, but that’s inherent in… people stay healthy,” LaBarre said.

Other chambers involved in the anti-federal mandate coalition, called Listen to MI Business, include groups from Battle Creek, Lansing, Saginaw, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and Traverse Connect in Traverse City.

Many are already supporting their members who encourage employees to get vaccinated, Johnston said.

“We want to create safe workplaces, but we really believe that every employer should have the opportunity to make judgments about safety, the way we attract workers (and) the way we operate our businesses,” said Johnston.

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