President Biden announced an ambitious plan to increase vaccination of the American workforce. His plan includes an emergency OSHA standard that mandates vaccination for all federal employees and federal contractors. This standard will mandate that all private-sector employers with over 100 employees require vaccination of employees or weekly COVID tests. It will require vaccinations (without a testing option) for all healthcare workers in most health settings that participate in Medicare and Medicaid, although it is unclear at this point how that will impact IP home care workers. Teachers and staff at Head Start programs must also be vaccinated.
Importantly, President Biden’s plan will include a requirement for employers to provide paid time off for vaccination, and it orders production of more at-home tests, with pharmacies providing free tests, Kroger and Walmart selling tests at cost, and 25 million free rapid tests to federally qualified health centers and food banks.
There will be an opportunity for public comment before the OSHA standard takes effect, and SEIU will comment in a manner that reflects the input of International Executive Board members, especially regarding measures that we believe must accompany any vaccination mandate. SEIU will push to make sure that the same strong health and safety protections – including paid time off for quarantining and free testing on paid time – that were in the initial emergency temporary standard for healthcare workers are included in this new emergency standard for all workers.
As the Federal, state, and local governments, as well as employers, continue issuing mandates regarding COVID vaccinations and testing, Local 73 is collecting the latest information on our COVID-19 Resources page to keep you up to date.
“Getting vaccinated is the best protection for yourself, your family, and the people you service,” said Dian Palmer, President of Local 73. “We recognize that the decision to get vaccinated is a personal choice, and that’s why we have made available information on our union’s principles regarding the vaccine, along with questions answered by doctors, on our resources page.”