Labor Unions Ask Biden To Require More COVID-19 Protections At Work

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U.S restrictions on international travel continue as Delta variant spreads around the world.

Labor unions made a pitch to the Biden administration on Friday to expand COVID-19 mitigation measures beyond vaccinations as part of any rule for implementing Biden’s mask mandate.

Union representatives from the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union were invited by the White House to offer their input for a new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that will guide how large employers implement Biden’s vaccine mandate. There they requested that the Biden administration include other virus mitigation measures to improve workplace protections. 

The measures that the unions had in mind include improved ventilation, masking and social distancing rules, and a requirement that employers conduct risk assessments to determine what mitigation strategies are needed. 

“We really need to be getting ahead of the transmission piece of the virus. It takes a while to get vaccinated - we need protections in the meantime,” Rebecca Reindel, who represented the AFL-CIO on the call, told CNBC

On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced an executive order that required employers with 100 or more workers to vaccinate their workforce or require weekly testing for unvaccinated employees. The White House estimates that if fully implemented, the new mandate will cover over 100 million American workers. 

A key part of implementing the mandate is the OSHA rule to guide employers. OSHA had submitted a draft rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for consideration on Oct. 12, but a final rule has yet to be released. 

Large companies have already begun forging ahead with initiating vaccine mandates, but cooperation from unions has at times been mixed. The United Auto Workers (UAW) auto-workers union, which counts Ford employees among its members, originally opposed a vaccine mandate but warmed up to the idea after President Biden announced his executive order. 

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