White House to meet with US Chamber of Commerce and retail executives on vaccine rule

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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on bottlenecks in the global transportation supply chain from the East Room of the White House in Washington, United States, October 13, 2021. REUTERS / Leah Millis

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (Reuters) – White House officials meet with influential industry trading groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, as the administration rushes to issue a rule to implement President Joe Biden’s plan to demand that private sector workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is hosting the virtual meetings, some of which are scheduled for Friday and Monday, which will also include the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, among others, according to public documents.

Other powerful groups and companies such as the HR Policy Association, a forum for America’s largest employers, and automaker Chrysler’s parent company, Stellantis, discussed the mandate with OMB officials on Thursday.

The HR Policy Association has stressed that companies want to be a partner in increasing immunization rates, according to Roger King, the group’s senior labor and employment adviser.

The group expressed concern that employers need clear rules on various issues, including alternatives to COVID-19 testing for vaccination, record keeping and confidentiality.

King said the HR Policy Association has also urged the administration to be flexible given concerns that mandatory vaccines could exacerbate labor shortages in some industries.

“It seems to move forward with warp speed,” King said.

Biden’s plan has received mixed reactions from companies and industry trade groups.

Several large employers such as Procter & Gamble (PG.N) 3M (MMM.N) as well as airlines such as American and JetBlue (JBLU.O) have imposed mandates since Biden’s announcement. Others, like IBM, have said it will require all U.S. employees to be fully immunized by December 8, regardless of how often they walk into the office.

Several other large US employers such as Walmart (WMT.N) have yet to issue general requirements.

The retail industry, which supports more than 50 million jobs in the United States, wants the administration to answer questions about vaccine verification processes and corrective actions that can be taken in situations where employees refuse vaccinations and tests, according to a letter sent by RILA to the US Department of Labor. .

Biden said Thursday that the warrant decision could be expected “soon.” The Labor Department submitted the initial text of the decision to the White House on Tuesday.

The mandate will apply to businesses with 100 or more employees and will be implemented under a federal rule-making mechanism known as the Temporary Emergency Standard. This would affect around 80 million workers across the country.

Along with last month’s Biden order that requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, the orders cover 100 million people, or about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

Biden’s tenure announcement in September came to a breaking point as the country faced an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths caused by the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus due to a large part of the population refusing free vaccinations.

The coronavirus has killed more than 700,000 Americans.

The vaccine ordinance has already spurred the backsliding of many Republican governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued an executive order banning businesses in his state from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for employees.

Reporting by Nandita Bose and Tom Hals; Additional reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Bill Berkrot and David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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