Biden Urges Firms To Impose COVID-19 Jab Mandates On Workers
The president, delivering remarks at a construction site outside Chicago, said that encouraging Americans to get vaccinated had helped, but it had not gone far enough to address the pandemic.
“Even after all of these efforts, we still have more than a quarter of the people in the United States who are eligible for vaccinations but didn’t get the shot,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s why I’ve had to move toward requirements.”
He said mandates had not been his first instinct, but the requirements were “already proving that they work.”
Biden said in September that he would use the full force of his presidency to push some 80 million American workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, reaching out to the private sector to mandate that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing.
He ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft a new rule that would make those requirements enforceable, a process that White House officials said at the time would take at least three or four weeks.
The president said on Thursday that the rule would be put in place quickly, but officials familiar with the process said it was likely to take several more weeks.
In the meantime, Biden sought to shift responsibility toward companies, which he said would help lead the United States out of the pandemic: “Businesses have more power than ever before to change the arc of this pandemic and save lives.”
Biden chose to visit the Chicago area in part because it is the home of United Airlines, one of the first major carriers to require shots for its 67,000 U.S. employees.
Other airlines have followed with similar requirements, including American Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines.
The president spoke at a site controlled by Clayco, a construction company that has required vaccines and testing for its employees.
He said: The Labor Department is going to shortly issue an emergency rule, which I asked for several weeks ago, and they’re going through the process, to require all employees with more than 100 people, whether they work for the federal government or not, this is within the purview of the Labor Department, to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or face testing at least once a week. In total, this Labor Department vaccination requirement will cover 100 million Americans, about two-thirds of all the people work in America.
“And here’s the deal. These requirements are already proving that they work. Starting in July, when I announced the first vaccination requirement for the federal government, about 95 million eligible Americans were unvaccinated. This was mentioned a little bit earlier.
“Today, we’ve reduced that number to 67 [million] eligible Americans who aren’t vaccinated. And today, we released a new report outlining effective vaccination requirements that are already proving their worth. I’m calling on more employers to act.
“My message is require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations, we’re going to beat this pandemic finally. Without them, we face endless months of chaos in our hospitals, damage to our economy and anxiety in our schools and empty restaurants, and much less commerce.
“Look, I know that vaccination requirements are a tough medicine, unpopular with some, politics for others, but they’re life-saving and game-changing for our country.”