Oklahoma Businesses Explain Concern After Biden’s Vaccine Requirement Announcement


Friday, September 10th 2021, 5:08 pm
By: Augusta McDonnell


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Business leaders expressed their concern about how President Biden’s new vaccine mandate will look here in Oklahoma.

The state’s chamber of commerce is taking the position they have taken throughout the pandemic on COVID mitigation.  

“Forcing a business in either direction to require, or don’t require vaccines, it just doesn’t work,” state chamber of commerce president Chad Warmington said.  

Warmington said this sets a dangerous, one-size-fits-all approach. 

“Regardless of the size of business, large or small, employers should be allowed to make an organization-specific decision on vaccination policies to protect the health and safety of their employees and clientele,” the chamber of commerce said in a statement.

Warmington said he expects legal pushback on the mandate.

The director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors said the mandate may push people out of already hard-to-fill construction jobs.

“Our fear is that if we lose people to this mandate, if we lose people and they decide to not work, then we’re going to find ourselves shutting down entire crews,” said Bobby Stem, Oklahoma General Contractors Association director. 

Stem said exceptions for outdoor work in the mandate would help contractors keep workers. 

“We have dozer operators that will operate a dozer for 8-10 hours a day, and not come in contact with anybody, except for when they may stop to take a lunch break,” Stem said. “So, if he chooses not to be vaccinated, we would like to keep that highly-skilled individual moving that dirt around on the job site,” Stem said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the authority to issue temporary rules based on an emergency need if they can show workers are exposed to a grave danger, but it must be feasible for employers to implement the rule.