As if you already didn't know, business owners are making it clear: President Biden's vaccine mandates are making it difficult to hire and are "stoking tensions" among workers.
Employers with 100 or more workers now have to make sure employees are fully vaccinated, according to new federal rules outlined by the Wall Street Journal. Those without vaccination need to test negative for Covid-19 "at least weekly", the report says.
While the mandate continues to play out in the courts and OSHA has temporarily agreed not to enforce it, many business owners continue to prepare for it.
For some, it's not all good news. Business owner Pete Yohe told the WSJ he supports vaccines: “But I hate the 100-plus mandate, which forces some of our employees to quit and go to smaller companies.”
40 of his roughly 140 employees haven’t been vaccinated, he said. He expects that two would quit before following the mandate.
Jason Hitch, chairman of Hitch Enterprises Inc., told the Journal he is hoping the courts strike down the mandate. He says while he is encouraging staff to vaccinate, he “doesn’t want to be the police officer of the government’s mandate.”
He is considering staying below the 100 employee threshold simply to avoid the mandate.
When he asked his employees about their vaccination status for the first time, "the response was so negative that they were reluctant to broach it again", he said.
He predicts 60% of his workers are vaccinated, but that there's a "vocal minority" who are strongly opposed to it.
“They understand it’s the government, but we are the implementers. It directs the vitriol towards us," Hitch said.
Steven Davis, area manager for Huntsville, Ala.-based Inline Electric Supply Co., says that mask mandates among unvaccinated workers would only cause division amongst employees. He said: “We are not acting as a team. It is frustrating to me.”
He guesses that about 40% of his company's 255 employees have been vaccinated, telling the Journal: “We have absolutely tried to educate people. It’s just right now, we have hit a wall. People have dug in.”
48 year old Christian Cook, who is a saw operator at Dyco, had Covid land him in the hospital for five days. He says he is still "on the fence" about being vaccinated. “I don’t need to have somebody tell me what I am going to do and not do,” he said.
Allen Hurlburt, co-owner of H&M Gopher Control in Tulelake, Calif., implemented a vaccine mandate for his 7 employees. Five of his unvaccinated employees quit.
“Ignoring the problem and [deciding to] continue operations was not an option,” Hurlburt said after replacing his staff. “We do not have the skilled personnel we had, but all are vaccinated. We are filling orders. We are getting the job done.”
Reid Tileston, who owns Giddings Hawkins Maintenance Service, said he didn't want to take chances with the future of his business.
“For me as a business owner, it was vaccinate the workforce or face chapter 11 [bankruptcy],” he concluded. One employee refused to get vaccinated and was terminated.
“His position is no longer available to him," Tileston concluded.