(Adds Western Union)
Sept 9 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday took aim at vaccine resistance in America, announcing policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccines and pushing large employers to have their workers vaccinated or tested weekly.
The new measures here, which Biden laid out in remarks from the White House, would apply to about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers.
A senior administration official said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would take enforcement actions against those that did not comply, with substantial fines of nearly $14,000 per violation.
Following are some of the latest reactions to the move.
DEFENSE CONTRACTOR LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to follow federal, state and local mandates, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
STATE STREET CORP
“In August, we announced that we will require all employees and contingent workers in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated in order to enter a State Street building, as of September 13, 2021.”
UNITED AUTO WORKERS UNION
A spokesman said the union is “looking at the details of the announcement and how it impacts our over 700 employer contracts and our members.” UAW President Ray Curry last month said he supported only voluntary efforts to get employees vaccinated, and said any mandates would need to be agreed through negotiation.
“We know vaccines, coupled with widespread and convenient testing, serve as powerful tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, keeping the U.S. economy open, and protecting America’s workforce,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy for Amazon.com. “We’re proud to work with the Biden administration to increase access to affordable, high-quality, FDA-authorized tests, to keep us moving toward a full recovery.”
AUTOMAKER STELLANTIS NV
“Since vaccines have become available, Stellantis has continued to strongly advocate for our employees to get vaccinated, including facilitating administration through our near-site clinics and in partnership with our local unions. We will review the Administration’s announcement and discuss it with our partners.”
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
“Since the vaccines first became widely available, we have strongly encouraged all our members to take one of the several safe, effective vaccines against COVID-19,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley. “The data are clear. Getting vaccinated isn’t just the best way for us to end this pandemic, it is the best way for us to protect each other in the workplace.”
“Likewise, since President Biden made his first major announcement about changing COVID-19 protocols for the federal workforce in response to the surging Delta variant, we have said that changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. Put simply, workers deserve a voice in their working conditions. Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.”
RARE EARTHS PRODUCER MP MATERIALS CORP
MP Materials, which received a grant from the Pentagon last year to process the minerals used in weaponry and electronics, said it would review the president’s order. “We haven’t yet seen the order and do not know what impact it will have. In general, we have acted throughout the pandemic to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees, including by encouraging and incentivizing vaccination,” spokesman Matt Sloustcher said.
LAWYER WHO REPRESENTS GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS
Regarding the legality of directing government contractors to get employees vaccinated, Steve Cave, an attorney at King & Spalding who represents government contractors, said the president will be seen as having greater authority over contractors sending employees to federal property, while contractors that do not perform work on government property will be more motivated to challenge the order.
Cave said there is precedent for Biden’s order. Former President Donald Trump banned from use by U.S. government contractors some Chinese technology which so far has survived challenges, he said.
“We are requiring proof of vaccination for all employees and vendors entering Microsoft buildings in the U.S. We have an accommodation process in place for employees who have a medical condition or other protected reason, such as religion, which prevent them from getting vaccinated,” a spokesperson said.
National Association of Manufacturers
“We look forward to working with the administration to ensure any vaccine requirements are structured in a way that does not negatively impact the operations of manufacturers that have been leading through the pandemic to keep Americans safe. It is important that undue compliance costs do not burden manufacturers, large and small alike,” President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement.
“Getting all eligible Americans vaccinated will, first and foremost, reduce hospitalizations and save lives. But it is also an economic imperative in that our recovery and quality of life depend on our ability to end this pandemic.”
DELTA AIR LINES
“While we await the details of the administration’s plan, Delta is proud to have developed a vaccination program that has already seen 78% of employees get vaccinated. Our employee vaccination numbers continue to grow following the announcement of our healthcare premium surcharge starting in November, and weekly testing starting next week, for those employees who choose to remain unvaccinated.”
GRAPHICS CHIP MAKER NVIDIA CORP
“The safety of our employees and their families is a top priority for NVIDIA. This is a topic that is being reviewed by our senior leaders and we have not yet made any decisions.”
FREIGHT RAILROAD OPERATOR UNION PACIFIC CORP
“We are reviewing the legal document outlining today’s executive order. If we are required to mandate vaccines or weekly testing, we will certainly comply. Right now, we continue to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated and are offering incentives.”
MONEY TRANSFER COMPANY WESTERN UNION CO
“Western Union is aware of the new Biden Administration mandate and will closely review any legal requirements with respect to the mandate and take applicable measures. We strongly encourage vaccination to help protect against COVID-19 for all our employees, and already require all employees based out of our Denver HQ to certify and provide proof of vaccination prior to coming to the office or regularly certify that they have received a negative COVID test result for those unvaccinated employees coming to the office.”
Reporting by Joe White in Detroit, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Ernest Scheyder in Houston, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del., Ira Iosebashvili in New York, Sanjana Sitara Shivdas, Noor Zainab Hussain and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler