BY: KEITH ELDREDGE, CPA, RKL, ABC KEYSTONE 2022 CHAIR OF THE BOARD
One of the things I hear from ABC Keystone members is, “What is ABC National doing about the Federal mandates?” I’d like to share a timeline and updates from our National organization.
Back in September 2021, ABC National, a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) expressing its concern over the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that would apply to employers with 100 or more employees as a requirement of President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic COVID-19 Action Plan.
In the letter, ABC pointed out that despite the efforts of a range of stakeholders, vaccine hesitancy remains an ongoing, complicated reality in countless industries. How the ETS was crafted would have significant, lasting impacts by driving workers away from larger firms and disrupting construction projects without raising the vaccination rate. In fact, we heard similar comments from ABC Keystone members when this was discussed with their employees. Several mentioned employees threatening to move to smaller construction firms to avoid the vaccine mandate.
ABC National’s key concerns are workforce shortages, employer and employee obligations for vaccinations and testing, paperwork burdens, recordability of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, cost of paid-time-off for vaccinations and adverse reactions, and availability of testing kits. As ABC National stated in its letter, “The COVID-19 pandemic has already created and accelerated a host of challenges for the construction industry, including a skilled workforce shortage, rising material costs, supply chain disruptions, jobsite shut-downs, additional health and safety protocols and new government regulations. The forthcoming ETS only adds to this long list of concerns.”
ABC National’s Timeline:
November 4, 2021: OSHA issued the ETF.
November 9: ABC National and the Alabama Chapter filed a petition against the ETF in the 11th Circuit. The 11th Circuit was chosen based on its make-up and the belief that would lead to a favorable outcome.
November 12: The 5th Circuit issued a stay of enforcement, and OSHA suspended activities until further development in the litigation.
November 16: Via a lottery system, all challenges to the ETS were consolidated to be heard by the 6th Circuit.
November 18: ABC National also filed petitions in support of multiple state suits challenging President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors in Georgia and Texas. At issue was a concern that federal contractors would not be able to meet the contract terms because of the hesitation of workers to the vaccine mandates. There is no COVID testing option for unvaccinated workers, and it is worrying that these unvaccinated workers might quit, which would unduly burden these employers that already have to deal with workforce shortages.
December 7: The U.S District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a nationwide preliminary injunction order against the federal contractor vaccine mandate.
As of the writing of this article, the 6th Circuit lifted the stay – meaning they can move forward – on the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS.
December 20: ABC National appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for the lifting of the stay.
If you are interested in receiving these types of updates from ABC National, you can subscribe to the “ABC Beltway Blueprint” e-mail blast by visiting abc.org/News-Media/Subscribe.
ABC National and the Keystone Chapter monitor many different pieces of legislation and regulations and provide input to help our members, and we both file challenges to ensure members and the construction industry as a whole benefit from the legislation and regulations.
Don’t forget, we have a Governor’s race this year, and we need to make sure an individual is elected that will help to promote the merit shop and free enterprise philosophy.
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Posted February 1, 2022