President Joe Biden’s command that private businesses require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is a shocking abuse of presidential power. Just as bad, by discouraging workers from staying on the job, it might tank the economy, which is already reeling from COVID-related shortages and soaring inflation.
On Sept. 9, Biden announced that businesses with 100 or more employees would have to require them to be vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests to prove they don’t have the Wuhan bug. This edict will affect as many as 100 million American workers.
One big problem: Cities, states and counties have in the past had authority to mandate things such as vaccines, not the federal government. Biden is literally creating a new authority for the presidency out of thin air, the kind of thing that authoritarian dictators do.
What’s more, Biden’s “order” is nothing of the sort. He announced it in early September, but has never released written rules for the government to enforce. So as of today, there is no “rule” or “order” to follow. Just a statement to the media.
The problem is, businesses, local and state government agencies, health providers, hospitals and others are forging ahead with their own plans to force workers to take one of the vaccines. And they’re using Biden’s phony “order” for cover.
The city of Boston, for instance, just suspended 812 workers for non-compliance. Boeing says it will require its workers to get vaccinated, or be suspended.
All the way back in August, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was well ahead of the curve, mandating that all state employees and health care workers be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs. Well, Oct. 18 is drawing nigh, and many workers, especially in health care, have simply said no. This is adding to what Brown has already called “catastrophic shortages” of nursing talent.
Neighboring Washington, too, has its own vaccine mandates. This week, the state’s fire marshal with 33 years of experience quit rather than submit to the vaccine, while 600 state workers are suing the state over the mandates.
And in recent weeks, large health care systems, such as Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health, have put thousands of staff members across the country on leave because they don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In New York, Mayor Bill deBlasio’s vaccine mandates have led to an exodus from the city, with 32,000 New Yorkers relocating to Florida as of March of this year, tired of the endless restrictions imposed.
But cracks are starting to appear in the mandate facade.
This last weekend, Southwest Airlines had to cancel thousands of flights, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded – a blow to that company’s reputation and future business.
At first, Southwest blamed the weather for the flight cancellations, but the truth emerged this week: It was really a “sick out,” following Southwest’s announcement on Oct. 4 that all 56,000 of its employees would have to get vaccinated or be fired.
Many of Southwest’s pilots, flight crews and ground personnel walked off the job or called in sick. And underscoring their anger, Southwest’s pilots union sued in federal court, arguing that by following Biden’s order, the airline “unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021.”
This week, when it became clear that Southwest workers, including its pilots, wouldn’t comply, the carrier had to back down.
Others so far aren’t backing off the mandates. Days before Southwest’s announcement, other airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways, announced they would obey Biden’s order. United has already fired 232 workers for not complying with the mandate.
And many health care agencies and companies refuse to back down.
All of which raises a big question: What will happen to a U.S. economy already desperate for workers and beset by major shortages of goods and services if more people walk off? We’re already feeling the impact of labor outages and soaring government spending in inflation, which jumped 5.4% in September, its biggest rise since 2008.
Data for August show that a stunning 4.3 million workers simply walked off their jobs, including half a million health care workers, the most since 2000.
Some of that is no doubt confidence in being able to get jobs elsewhere at a time when there are 10.4 million job vacancies to be filled. But how much of it is people saying they’re fed up with the continued imposition of nonsensical masking and vaccination rules that have made jobs so unbearable for many? Not to mention that many do not trust the vaccines themselves?
One thing is certain: An economy can’t run without workers. Economic growth and stable prices depend on talented, well-trained workers staying on the job, not disgruntled and at home.
The Biden administration’s policies have been not only among the most worker-unfriendly in history, they’ve openly encouraged people not to work. The labor force breakdown could have a disastrous impact on U.S. economic growth for years to come, triggering another recession. If so, it would be yet another unforced error by the worst American president in recent history.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board