Michigan businesses welcome SCOTUS blocking Biden vaccine mandate

(The Center Square) – Michigan's business community welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court decision blocking Pres. Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for the private sector on Thursday.

A separate mandate stands for some health care workers.

Wendy Block, the vice president of Business Advocacy and Member Engagement for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and on behalf of the Listen to MI Business coalition, applauded the ruling.

“We strongly support the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the federal vaccine or test mandate on employers with 100 or more employees,” Block said in a statement. “The court fully acknowledged the sweeping and disruptive nature of OSHA’s vaccine mandate and the numerous complexities associated with its implementation. We will continue to encourage vaccines and the necessity of maintaining thoughtful safety protocols in the workplace.”

If the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, businesses with 100 or more employees would have been required to check the vaccine status of all of their workers. Those who were not fully vaccinated would have faced weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies that violated the mandate faced stiff fines.

Last year, then-Michigan Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley called the Biden administration rule “out-of-touch,” especially during a labor shortage, inflation, and supply chain issues pre-holidays.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Michigan employers have struggled to fill open positions, even after incentives as some workers switch careers or pivot to care for children.

About 3,000 people gathered at the Lansing Capitol to protest the vaccine mandate in November.

Michigan Occupational Safety Health Administration (MIOSHA) oversees worker safety. MIOSHA Director, Bart Pickelman told The Center Square that as a result of the ruling, “MIOSHA will not proceed with adoption of [Federal OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for Vaccination and Testing] by January 24th and is awaiting information from federal OSHA on next steps,” Pickelman wrote in an email. “As a reminder, employers are still subject to MIOSHA’s General Duty Clause and are expected to make reasonable efforts to protect their employees from pandemic hazards measured against CDC guidelines.”

Rep. Timmy Beson, R-Bangor Township, welcomed the ruling.

“Speaking from experience as a business owner, the mandate would have been terrible for employers, too," Beson said in a statement. "Although the mandate did not apply to smaller businesses, job providers of all sizes are already struggling to find employees. Certainly, workers should not be fired because of a mandate from a federal agency. And the testing option doesn’t do much to help them out; anyone who has glanced at the news recently knows there’s a shortage of COVID tests."

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