MADISON — Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has legally weighed in on the Biden administration’s constitutionally suspect COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate.
WMC, the state’s combined chamber and manufacturers association, filed a friend of the court brief Tuesday in support of a Wisconsin federal lawsuit challenging the mandate issued earlier this month by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The WMC Litigation Center submitted the brief on behalf of WMC in support of a lawsuit filed by two Wisconsin businesses in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
OSHA’s standards put sharp teeth in President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring companies with more than 100 workers be vaccinated or undergo routine testing.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked the mandate. On Wednesday, OSHA suspended implementation and enforcement “pending future developments in the litigation.”
WMC’s brief explains why the OSHA mandate is illegal and how it would harm Wisconsin businesses through mass resignations and expensive compliance costs. Congress hasn’t given OSHA statutory authority to mandate vaccinations, the brief notes. It also details the strain the mandate would put on Wisconsin employers, already struggling to fill jobs amid a workforce shortage crisis.
“Wisconsin’s workforce shortage continues to be compounded by President Biden’s policies,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt R. Bauer. “For Wisconsin businesses, not only is this mandate unlawful, it is unworkable. If enacted, most employers would not be able to comply with the rigorous requirements and, to make matters worse, workers would end up walking off the job.”
WMC recently conducted a survey of its members with more than 100 employees, asking them about OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS). The survey revealed that 88 percent of respondents expect to lose part of their workforce if the mandate is enacted.
Of the businesses who anticipate losing employees, more than half expect to lose between 11 and 40 percent of their workforce under the OSHA ETS.
Joel Fleischmann, president of Drexel Building Supply, headquartered in Columbus, said if the mandate goes into effect a significant number of the company’s team members will either quit or go to work for an employer with fewer than 101 employees.
“Drexel Building Supply is already at a critical moment in its business due to the pandemic shortage of labor and supply chain issues causing shortages in material and supplies. The impact on Drexel Building Supply’s business will be widespread and devastating,” Fleischmann said.
The vast majority of WMC survey respondents said they do not believe the requirements are even attainable. Most (88 percent) said there would be disruptions to operations, and 84 percent noted a lack of testing supplies required to administer the weekly testing to non-vaccinated employees.
“Twin Disc has just over 250 employees in the US, with approximately the same vaccination rate of the country. How is it fair that they are mandated to be vaccinated or tested weekly when they could walk across the street or drive across town to another employer with fewer than 100 employees and not have to do either?” said John Batten, president & CEO of Twin Disc, Inc., based in Racine. “The OSHA ETS is an unfair burden and expense on employers like Twin Disc and poses a huge, unnecessary risk of not maintaining continuous production during the ETS if unvaccinated employees choose to leave.”