The Columbus Dispatch

Chamber: Vaccine requiremen­t would hurt business

Groups band together to halt administra­tion rule

- Mark Williams

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and a group of Ohio trade associatio­ns have banded together as part of the legal fight against the Biden administra­tion's COVID-19 vaccine requiremen­t for employers.

The rule requires that employers with at least 100 workers implement

a vaccine mandate or require unvaccinat­ed workers to be tested weekly.

This rule is estimated to affect as many 84 million employees across the country and was set to be enforced starting on Jan. 4. The requiremen­t would apply to nearly 2 million Ohio workers, including about 300,000 in Franklin County, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and

Family Services.

Almost immediatel­y after the administra­tion announced the rule, it was challenged in courts around the country by businesses and attorneys general, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The groups generally argue that the rule exceeds the authority of the Occupation­al Safety & Health Administra­tion, including the belief that Congress never contemplat­ed giving an administra­tive agency the ability to mandate the vaccinatio­n of millions of Americans and the fact that COVID-19 is not a hazard that exists just in the workplace.

The cases have been consolidat­ed with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. For now, a separate federal appeals court has issued a stay on the requiremen­t.

The chamber was joined by the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Associatio­n, the Ohio Grocers Associatio­n, the Wholesale Beer and Wine Associatio­n, the Ohio Automobile Dealers Associatio­n and the Ohio Bankers League in filing a brief this week with the court challengin­g the vaccinatio­n and testing requiremen­t.

The brief argued that the decision to have the regulation apply only to companies with more than 100 workers is arbitrary and that aspects of the order are ambiguous. The brief also says the rule could make it even tougher for companies to find workers in an already tight labor market.

"Businesses have been leaders in the fight against COVID-19, and the last thing they need are bureaucrat­s and politician­s in Washington, D.C., trying to dictate how they run," chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers said in a statement.

The brief argues that there's no basis for setting the threshold at 100 workers and that the threshold creates a "perverse incentive for employers to try to get below the threshold, even though many would otherwise be adding staff during the holiday season."

It also creates an incentive for unvaccinat­ed workers to seek employment at smaller companies, the brief says.

The chamber, meanwhile, continues to oppose House Bill 218, which would limit the ability of businesses to implement their own vaccine mandates.

“While forcing vaccine mandates and banning vaccine mandates may seem like opposite matters, in reality, the federal and state issues are two sides of the same coin, and that coin is government overreach,” Stivers said. mawilliams@dispatch.com @Bizmarkwil­liams

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