“We need to be vaccinated to get back to work and bring ourselves, the state and the country back to 2019 as we all remember,” said Tim Boyle.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Biden administration’s new vaccination mandates announced this week are expected to impact tens of thousands of workers in Oregon and Washington.
The president on Thursday ordered all employers with more than 100 workers to require them to get vaccinated or tested for the virus every week. Health care facility workers who receive Medicare or federal Medicaid will also need to be fully immunized.
Biden also requires vaccinations for executive branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government. They will not have the weekly test option.
Willamette University legal scholar Keith Cunningham-Parmeter called the president’s decision “a bold step.”
“There may be legal challenges to vaccination mandates, but overall government officials — both state and federal — have convinced the courts that in a time of a pandemic, they have a right to protect the public. . So when it comes to OSHA, which is the federal agency charged with protecting workers, there’s a long history of passing rules to protect workers from things like falling on the job or being exposed to electrocution. dangerous, things like that. So if the government has the power to protect workers from things like asbestos or falling off ladders, the government probably has the power to protect people from a dangerous pandemic.
Cunningham-Parmeter said unions will likely find it difficult to oppose Biden’s extended terms since they come directly from a federal agency. He said employers who face union opposition will likely side with OSHA compliance.
“Federal OSHA sets the rules, and then about half the states have their own state version of OSHA,” Cunningham-Parmeter explained. “Oregon is one of those states. And so, the demands of the Biden administration have been that OSHA issue the mandate for the vaccine, but states can issue their own rules to comply. Oregon can therefore enact its own rules, as long as they are as protective as the federal rule.
The warrants are expected to affect tens of millions of Americans. KOIN 6 News reached out to Nike, Adidas and Intel – all of the major players in the Pacific Northwest who have previously said they have encouraged vaccination but have not made it mandatory, or have remained silent on the subject.
Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, said he was pleased with the White House’s decision and said Columbia Sportswear was a big advocate for worker vaccinations.
“We want to make sure vulnerable people are covered and that frankly we can get back to a more normal way of life, a more normal way of working, and that’s only going to happen if we have a high vaccination rate,” he said.
Boyle said the company tried many incentives for months to encourage its roughly 3,000 local employees to get vaccinated, but not all workers participated.
“We need to allow religious exemptions, of course, but we need to be vaccinated to get back to work and bring us and the state and the country back to 2019 as we all remember,” he said. . “I guess most businesses would like to get back to normal.”
KOIN 6 News will update this story with any responses we receive from other major PNW companies.